It is said that the world’s second-largest economy grew by 6.1% in 2019, constituting its slowest expansion in 29 years.
Margaret Yang, market analyst at CMC Markets, quoted to Reuters that “a well-expected fourth-quarter China GDP rate (6%) provided little clue for oil price trading on Friday morning, and mounting downward economic pressure will perhaps limit oil’s upside in the mid to long-term.”
What is more, Brent crude futures LCOc1 were up 29 cents at $64.91 a barrel by 1308 GMT and U.S. West Texas Intermediate futures CLc1 were up 29 cents at $58.81.
On Thursday, January 16, oil rose after China and the United States signed their Phase 1 trade accord; the mood was further boosted with the U.S. Senate’s approval of changes to the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Free Trade Agreement.
As seen in refinery throughput figures, the rising Chinese demand offset the less positive economic growth data.
Specifically, in 2019, Chinese refineries processed 651.98 million tonnes of crude oil, equal to a record high 13.04 million barrels per day (bpd) and up 7.6% from 2018.
What is more, throughput also set a monthly record for December.
Olivier Jakob of consultancy Petromatrix explains that
The increase in China’s refinery capacity is reshaping the trade flows of refined products, while the increase in U.S. crude oil production is reshaping the trade flows of crude oil.
Forecasts by two major agencies of a supply surplus also weighed on prices this year.
Recently, the International Energy Agency (IEA), offered a bearish view of the oil market outlook for 2020, noting that OPEC supply will exceed demand for its crude, even if OPEC member states comply fully with output cuts agreed with Russia and other producers in a grouping known as OPEC+.
Commerzbank said to Reuters that
If global oil demand continues at last year’s weaker than normal 1% growth rate in 2020 and 2021 then OPEC and its allies might be forced to switch strategy to ‘volume over price’ once again.