Oil price declines extended in midmorning trading Friday as the market looked to equity markets for direction amid a lack of fresh indicators. ICE March Brent was down $1 at $60.68/b and NYMEX February WTI was 88 cents lower at $51.71/b. WTI had traded as high as $53.31/b and Brent touched $62.49/b overnight, but profit-taking activity halted the rally and later sent crude futures into the red. “There is a lot of resistance in mid $53s, and when stocks dipped lower there was some profit taking after incredible week,” Price Futures Group senior market analyst Phil Flynn said.
WTI futures settled higher for a ninth-straight session on Thursday, the longest up streak since January 2010. The ICE US Dollar Futures index spiked nearly 0.5% to an intraday high of 95.365 ahead of US market open, adding downward pressure to oil prices. Crude futures then stepped down to intraday lows after equity markets opened lower on Friday, with the Dow Jones Industrial average trading down as much as 0.6%. “There is no real compelling news out there to drive the market higher today, with the stocks down a bit people tend to take profits,” Flynn said.
The next signal for the market will be the Baker Hughes rig count data due out later Friday, analysts said. “The market is looking to the rig count as a sign of shale producers able to whether a big drop in price,” Flynn said. “A report showing flat or lower rig counts could support prices later in the day.”
Shale producers have been trimming 2019 CapEx budgets and have slowed drilling activity amid the steep selloff in crude prices since October. The US oil and natural gas rig count fell by seven to 1,138 during the first full week of 2019, S&P Global Platts Analytics data showed Thursday, and the total is 95 rigs below the recent high of 1,233 posted in mid-November. NYMEX product futures traced crude on Friday. February ULSD was down 1.53 cents at $1.8909/gal and February RBOB was 1.8 cents lower at $1.4127/gal.