With the EU embargo on Iranian oil imports adopted earlier this year and the possibility of more quantitative easing in the U.S., Brent oil prices could reach $110 per barrel by the end of the year, Harry Tchilinguirian, head of commodity markets strategy at BNP Paribas, told CNBC.
“Essentially we’ve been having very weak [Purchasing Managers Index] data both in the U.S. and in China, that’s fueling expectations of further monetary policy stimulus," he said.
“At the same time, of course, we still have Iran in the headlines and that’s going to have importance in the second half of this year," he added.
Tchilinguirian said the recent Institute for Supply Management (ISM) data points to a slowdown in the U.S. economy. Earlier this week, the ISM data showed that U.S. manufacturing activity shrank for the first time in three years, The Associated Press reported.
Weak labor market trends also appear to be pointing to a slowdown. If Friday’s non-farm payroll data is disappointing, Tchilinguirian expects oil prices will increase. Economists surveyed by Reuters expect a gain in non-farm payrolls of 90,000 in June, following an increase of 69,000 in May.
“We’re certainly looking for a higher oil price through the balance of this year and we could easily see West Texas Intermediate return to an average of $90 to $95 [per barrel] in the third quarter,” he told CNBC.
Tchilinguirian does not foresee equivalence between WTI and Brent Crude oil prices.
“We’re assuming that we’ll have, on average, a spread between $10 to $15 and so the movement will be contained within that,” he noted.
“We do not see a return to parity between the two crudes just because we have so much surplus light oil in the U.S,” he said.
WTI futures for August delivery were trading at $87.18 Thursday morning, while Brent crude futures for August delivery were trading at $100.82.
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