Oil prices were supported early Monday by sentiments about a return to market balance from parties to an OPEC-led effort to erase last year's supply-side strains. File photo by Monika Graff/UPI | License Photo
July 24 (UPI) -- Crude oil prices gained ground early Monday on the back of optimism over market balance, but concerns about slow economic growth could undermine performance.
Parties to the committee monitoring an arrangement led by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to balance an oversupplied market with managed declines are meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia, to review its impact. Committee members disappointed traders during their last meeting in May when they decided to extend, rather than amplify, the existing agreement.
The agreement to sideline about 1.8 million barrels of oil per day is meant to restore balance to a market that was awash in oil last year in part because of strong gains from the shale basins in the United States.
The lopsided market last year dragged crude oil prices below $30 per barrel.
In a statement from St. Petersburg, committee members said the market was making "steady and significant" progress toward balance.
"The continued strengthening of the global recovery is underway, with stability in the oil market remaining a key determinant," the statement read. "The market volatility has been lower in recent weeks and investment flows have visibly started to improve in the industry."
Crude oil prices moved between strong to medium gains for most of early morning trading. The price for Brent crude oil was up more than 1 percent at one point, but was trading at $48.40 per barrel at 9:15 EDT, up 0.7 percent from Friday's close. West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark for the price of crude oil, was up 0.66 percent to $46.07 per barrel.
Parties to the agreement have been monitoring output from Libya and Nigeria, two OPEC members exempt from the deal so they can steer oil revenue toward national security efforts. The committee's statement made little reference to Libyan production gains, but said Nigeria would be willing to cap production as soon as it reached 1.8 million barrels per day.
Nigeria reported to OPEC that crude oil production in June was about 1.67 million barrels per day. The basket that makes up the OPEC benchmark for crude oil prices was down 1 percent early Monday to $46.99 per barrel.
Elsewhere, the International Monetary Fund left its projection for global economic growth at 3.6 percent for this year, but said that forecast masks swings at the country level.
"U.S. growth projections are lower than in April, primarily reflecting the assumption that fiscal policy will be less expansionary going forward than previously anticipated," the report read. "China's growth projections have also been revised up, reflecting a strong first quarter of 2017 and expectations of continued fiscal support."