Oil in Tug-of-War: Jobs Data To Decide Fate? 

WTI Crude Oil Futures (NYMEX: CL) find themself in a precarious position, exhibiting a 1.82% gain this week, with today’s increase of over 0.3%. The futures are balancing supply concerns against mixed economic data and cautious optimism regarding a potential Federal Reserve pivot. After a roller-coaster week that saw prices tumble on weak demand signals before recovering on supply disruptions and Fed dovishness, the market remains on edge awaiting the crucial US labour data on Friday. 

Libyan production disruptions from the Sharara and El-Feel fields, slashing 365,000 barrels per day (bpd) from the market, continue to fuel supply anxieties. Middle East tensions, particularly surrounding Iran and Yemen, also add an unpredictable element, potentially disrupting crucial oil arteries. 

Recent US inventory data paints a mixed picture, with a larger-than-expected crude draw countered by significant rises in gasoline and distillate stocks, suggesting weakening demand. Conversely, the Eurozone’s economic downturn and Germany’s rising inflation cast doubt on strong European demand, further muddying the demand outlook. 

Friday’s Non-Farm Payrolls report is the pivotal event, with a strong showing potentially delaying Fed rate cuts and impacting oil consumption. 


The 4-hour chart shows that the WTI currently trades at $72.76/BBL, hovering above the 100-SMA (orange line) as the market prepares for the NFP report. The price action recently broke above the 100-SMA but remains below the 50-SMA (blue line), suggesting a tug-of-war between bulls and bears. A flat RSI at 52.11 and near-flat RSI-based MA indicate potential price stability in the short term. 

A sustained push above the SMAs could trigger bullish momentum towards the initial resistance at $73.64/BBL. Breaking this level could open the door for further gains at $74.59/BBL. Failure to hold above the 100-SMA and 20-SMA (green line) might offer short-term opportunities towards the $71.69/BBL support. A break below this level could confirm bearish momentum, potentially targeting $70.75/BBL. 


WTI crude oil faces a delicate balancing act. Supply concerns from Libya and the Middle East and mixed demand signals create a volatile environment. The Fed’s potential pivot towards dovishness offers a glimmer of hope, but Friday’s NFP data will be the ultimate catalyst. Technically, the price action remains in a near-neutral state, with potential short-term opportunities emerging in both directions depending on the market’s reaction to the data and the Fed’s future direction. 

Sources: TradingView, Trading Economics, Reuters, EIA, Dow Jones Newswire. 

Piece written by Mfanafuthi Mhlongo, Trive Financial Market Analyst 

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