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Saudi Arabia Commodities March 2018

Saudi Arabia: Oil prices continue to rise in recent weeks

Oil prices bumped around above the USD 60 per barrel mark until the middle of March, dampened by higher U.S. shale output and concerns over rising protectionism in the U.S. However, prices firmed in the second half of the month. On 6 April, the OPEC oil basket traded at USD 64.8 per barrel, which was a 2.5% increase from the same month in March. The price was up 0.5% from the start of the year and was 25.1% higher than on the same day in 2017.

Oil prices were dragged down by rising market uncertainty in early March, as U.S. equities fell on fears that the U.S. was preparing to adopt a more protectionist stance. In addition, surging U.S. shale production is seeing the country’s total crude output reach record highs, putting further downward pressure on oil prices. However, prices recovered towards the end of the month, on strong global growth and increased compliance with OPEC production cuts among the bloc’s members.

Combined oil output among OPEC members dipped from 32.3 million barrels per day (mbpd) in January to 32.2 mbpd in February, according to the cartel’s latest Monthly Oil Report, mainly on the back of lower output in the UAE and Venezuela, with the latter’s production negatively impacted by the ongoing economic crisis. In contrast, crude output in Nigeria and Angola rose month-on-month, while Saudi Arabian output was largely unchanged at 9.98 mbpd.

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