Oil prices tick up alongside European shares, reports

U.S. oil refiners set for worst earnings quarter of the pandemic

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LONDON, Oil prices ticked up on Tuesday alongside rising European shares and amid reports of a blast in Saudi Arabia, trading near 11-month highs.

Brent crude was up 43 cents, or 0.8%, at $56.31 by 1117 GMT, while U.S. crude rose 43 cents, or 0.8%, to $53.20. Both contracts rose nearly 1% on Monday and are set to post the third monthly rise in a row.

Prices moved up slightly after reports of a blast in the Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh, although the cause remains unclear.

In Europe, gains in financial services and chemical sectors helped stocks rise on Tuesday. Risk assets such a equities and oil often move in tandem.

On the supply side, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies’ compliance with pledged oil output curbs is averaging 85% in January, tanker tracker Petro-Logistics said on Monday. The findings suggest the group has improved compliance supply curb commitments.

Also, output from the giant Tengiz field in Kazakhstan was disrupted by a power cut on Jan. 17.

“It appears that market players are cautiously sanguine about the producer group’s market management strategy and therefore about the imminent depletion in global oil inventories,” PVM analysts said.

Dampening bullish sentiment, U.S. Democrats are still trying to convince Republican lawmakers of the need for more stimulus, raising questions over when and in what form a package will be approved.

Even as the pace of new infections falls in the United States, European nations have set tough restrictions to combat the spread of the coronavirus while vaccines are rolled out.

China is reporting rising COVID-19 cases, casting a pall over demand prospects in the world’s largest energy consumer.

Still, there are areas where demand for oil remains strong.

In India, crude oil imports in December rose to their highest in more than two years as the easing of coronavirus restrictions boosted economic activity.
U.S. refiners are girding for a painful slate of fourth-quarter earnings, reflecting the pressure of rising crude prices, weak demand due to renewed COVID-19 travel restrictions, and higher costs of associated with blending of renewable fuels into their products.

Both Credit Suisse and Tudor Pickering Holt cut lowered the price estimates of every U.S. independent refiner for the fourth quarter.

In the fourth quarter, independent refiners including Marathon Petroleum, Valero Energy and Phillips 66 coped with uneven demand due to a resurgence of coronavirus cases worldwide.

Consumption of liquid fuels globally is estimated to have fallen by 9 million barrels per day in 2020, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Crude oil benchmarks rallied more than 20% in the quarter, which squeezed U.S. refining margins to less than $10 a barrel on average – the threshold for which most refiners make money – for the majority of the fourth quarter.

Meanwhile, tougher restrictions on socializing and businesses clamped down on traffic in states like California, the most populous U.S. state and one of the largest driving

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