Barclays raises forecasts for oil prices, but flags slow recovery

FILE PHOTO: A TORC Oil & Gas pump jack is seen near Granum, Alberta, Canada May 6, 2020. REUTERS/Todd Korol

(Reuters) - Barclays Commodities Research on Friday raised its oil price forecasts for this year by $4 per barrel, citing a bigger deficit in the second half of the year, though the British bank expressed caution on a slow recovery in the near term.

“The rate of change in fundamentals is likely to moderate significantly as incremental demand improvement will depend more on consumer behavior than the easing of enforced movement restrictions,” Barclays said in a note.

The private bank now sees Brent oil prices at $41 a barrel and West Texas Intermediate at $37, and expects Brent to average $37 a barrel during the third quarter, while U.S. crude futures are seen averaging $34.

However, oil prices are set for sharp falls this week, with Brent slumping about 11% so far and WTI diving more than 10%. Prices are set for their first weekly decline in seven.

The British lender joins other investments banks, including Goldman Sachs in citing the recovery in oil has been too much and too fast and a pull-back in oil prices was imminent.

“The pace of recovery in prices is likely to slow down, in our view, as the steepest decline in supply and the fastest improvement in demand is likely behind us,” Barclays said.

The benchmarks had jumped to a three-month peak earlier in the week after the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Russia and other producers, a group known as OPEC+, extended its deal to cut about 10% of global supply through July.

The recent positive developments with surprises in incoming data on demand and continued OPEC+ cuts will likely boost the estimated oil deficit by about 1 million barrels per day in H2 2020, the investment bank wrote in a note.

Reporting by Swati Verma in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips