A major Wall Street bank is reiterating its bullish call on crude oil, as the fossil fuel sits at four week highs following this week’s U.S. missile attack on Syria.
RBC Capital Markets Head of Commodity Strategy Helima Croft predicts prices will climb to the low $60s within months — a nearly 20 percent move from current levels. That would translate to roughly a $1.80 gasoline spot price.
“We see it grinding higher over the back half of the year,” Croft told “Futures Now,” recently. “We’re coming out of refinery maintenance season. So, we’re going to start to see draws of the U.S. inventory. Those high U.S. inventory numbers have really been depressing prices.”
Summer driving season will also give prices a “boost,” and demand won’t fall anytime soon, according to Croft.
Crude initially jumped two percent in reaction to U.S. airstrikes on Syria before giving back some gains. The commodity settled up one percent on Friday to $52.24 a barrel, its highest settle in a month. However, crude is still down nearly 3% so far this year.
The latest activity overseas isn’t moving the needle on Croft’s oil forecast . . . yet.
She said there’s no real immediate supply disruption threat, since Syria’s six-year-old civil war has moved the majority of local production offline.
However, she pointed out a few wildcards, which include potential new strains between Russia and the Sunni Arab Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states, and whether the U.S. strikes could give hardline candidates a lift in Iran’s presidential election in May. These situation could also propel prices higher.
In a research note out Friday, Croft wrote, “If these strikes are not followed up by a serious effort to oust the Syrian leader [Bashar Assad], none of these scenarios may materialize and the oil implications will remain negligible. However, given that President Trump had previously signaled deep disdain for humanitarian interventions and Middle Eastern military engagements, we are now in uncharted waters….”
Nearer term, Croft lists OPEC as a key factor in the direction of oil prices. She believes OPEC’s next meeting on May 25 could have more immediate impact.
“We see that 1.8 million barrel a day OPEC, Non-OPEC coordinated cut. We see them rolling that over for another six months. That’s why we are constructive going into the back half of the year,” she said.
“If you are sovereign head of state in one of these oil producing countries, you fear more than anything a price reversal back into the $40s or the $30s.”