Oil rises 1% as market weighs disappointing economic data against geopolitical risk

A view of oil-well in action during sunset at Elk Hills Oil Field as gas prices on the rise in California, United States on April 14, 2024. 
Tayfun Coskun | Anadolu | Getty Images

Crude oil futures pulled back Thursday after U.S. economic growth disappointed.

Gross domestic product was much softer than expected in the first quarter, coming in at 1.6% on an annualized basis compared with 2.4% expected by a Dow Jones survey of economists.

Slower economic growth can weigh on crude oil demand. Prices turned negative after moving higher earlier in the session.

Here are today’s energy prices:

  • West Texas Intermediate June contract: $82.45 a barrel, down 36 cents or 0.43%. Year to date, U.S. oil has gained about 15%.
  • Brent June contract: $87.62 a barrel, down 40 cents or 0.45%. Year to date, the global benchmark has added about 14%.
  • RBOB Gasoline May contract: $2.72 a gallon, down 0.36%. Year to date, gasoline futures are up about 29%.
  • Natural Gas May contract: $1.62 per 1,000 cubic feet, down 1.63%. Year to date, gas is down about 35%.

Oil prices closed lower Wednesday as Goldman Sachs saw a slightly bearish market with global inventories on the rise. U.S. crude is down about 1% this week while Brent is up 0.3%.

Crude oil futures have shed $2.50 in geopolitical risk premium since last week as tensions between Israel and Iran have eased, according to analysts at Piper Sandler.

Oil prices are currently moving sideways but downside risk seems limited, Jan Stuart, Piper’s energy analyst, told clients in a research note.

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WTI v. Brent

Piper has reduced the odds of a U.S. recession to a coin flip, Stuart said. Unemployment is low, sentiment is OK and the outlook is not bad, he said. This means growing demand for oil with refiners running closer to capacity and smaller capacity additions, Stuart said.

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