U.S. oil prices rose to a five week high Friday, as global crude futures markets rode their longest winning streak on record, fueled by hopes of near-term trade deal with China, a weaker U.S. dollar and the impact of OPEC supply cuts.
West Texas Intermediate crude futures, the benchmark for domestic oil markets which are closely linked to U.S. gas prices, have risen nearly 25% since hitting a multi-year low of $42.53 on December 24 as OPEC's 1.2 million barrels per day in production cuts appear to have offset the continued surge in U.S. output, which hit a record 11.7 million barrels per day last week. The steady progress in trade talks with China, the world's biggest energy consumer, and a weakening dollar, have extended the oil market's rally into a tenth consecutive session, the longest since 2010.
"Oil markets have gone from the outhouse to the penthouse after extending its best winning streak in nearly a decade,"said Oanda's head of Asia Pacific trading Stephen Innes. "Both the S&P and oil markets have found solid footing from a thaw in US-China trade tensions, and (Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome) Powell stressing his patience all added to the positive buzz as energy markets continue to extend its recent period of close correlation with equity markets."
Brent crude contracts for March delivery, the global benchmark, were marked 22 cents higher from their Thursday close in New York and changing hands at $61.88 per barrel, the highest since late November. WTI contracts for February were marked 28 cents higher at $52.87 per barrel, the highest since December 4.
If crude futures close in positive territory today, it will mark the longest winning streak since their launch in June 1988 and the best five-day gain in at least two years.
U.S. gas price tracking website gasbuddy.com indicates average prices have risen to $2.26 per gallon this week, up from $2.23 in early January when President Donald Trump said low prices at the pump were liked a "tax cut" for American consumers.
That said, December's notably low gas prices, which were driven by crude's 30% decline over the fourth quarter of 2018, should keep inflation in check when month CPI figures are published later today. The Energy Department's CPI gas price index fell 11% last month, a figure that Pantheon Economics' Ian Shepherdson thinks will clip 0.26 percentage points from today's headline inflation reading.
"Prices for other energy commodities, notably home heating oil, also likely dropped sharply in December, but their weightings in the CPI are trivial compared to gasoline," Shepherdson said.