J.P. Morgan beat all other investment banks in their forecasts for the price of Brent crude this year, setting its projection at US$70 a barrel. To compare, the second most bullish forecast on Brent is from Bank of America at US$64 a barrel, while Goldman is even more cautious and has not yet upgraded its Brent price forecast from its US$62 a barrel prediction.
J.P. Morgan’s reasoning is the same as the other banks’: the global economy will continue to expand, which will stimulate growth in oil demand and healthy prices. This dynamic will also drive WTI prices higher, with the average for the year seen at US$65.63 a barrel by J.P. Morgan’s oil analysts.
Despite the upbeat mood, the investment bank’s analysts do recognize the danger of growing U.S. and other non-OPEC production. So, while their price forecasts are for the average level of Brent and WTI this year, the bank’s senior oil analyst Abhishek Deshpande noted in an interview with CNBC that "This 2018 is going to be a year of two halves. The first half is going to be a ... half of demand, and the second half is more about supply, which is coming back in reaction to the higher oil prices." Related: Qatar LNG Booms Despite Embargo
The first half of the year will be so strong, Deshpande believes, that Brent could hit US$78 a barrel in the first or the second quarter. Yet in the second half of the year, drillers will increase their production in response to the higher prices, and this higher production may weigh on the benchmarks.
There is also something else that may occur before too long: a price correction resulting from the record-high bullish positions on the six most popular oil-related futures contracts. In his latest column, Reuters’ John Kemp warned that despite the already record number of long bets on these six contracts, money managers are continuing to place more, with the number of net long bets on Brent alone rising by an equivalent of 14 million barrels in the week to January 23. In total, net long bets on the six contracts swelled by 44 million barrels to 1.484 billion barrels.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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