WTI Crude oil remains stuck in a $50 to $55/barrel range with ongoing production cuts from the Opec+ group of nations being offset by global growth worries. Earlier in the week, the International Monetary Fund lowered its global economic forecasts for 2019 and 2020 in response to risks including trade tensions and rising interest rates. However the reduction in global growth from 3.7% to 3.5% was viewed as optimistic given the impact of a prolonged US government shutdown together with a weaker outlook for Europe and not least China, which last year experienced the slowest rate of expansion in almost 30 years.
The Energy Information Administration, the International Energy Agency and Opec all kept their 2019 outlooks for global demand growth stable in January's oil market reports. Downward revisions, however, are now likely to surface following the mentioned downgrade from the IMF and the OECD’s composite leading indicator, which in November dropped to 99.3 points, a six-year low and a level that has previously signaled recession.
While the weakness during the past 24 hours was driven by forecasts for rising crude and product stocks, the market's attention has since shifted to Venezuela. President Maduro’s dreadful regime, which has driven the population into poverty and misery, is finally seeing a strong challenge from Juan Guaido, the elected leader of the National Assembly. He has declared himself acting president under article 233 of the Constitution, which authorises him to become interim president in the event of “serious misconduct” on the part of the elected president. Shortly after declaring himself as head of state, the US and other nations, including Canada and Brazil, recognised him as the rightful leader.
Maduro responded by cutting diplomatic relations with the US and ordering all personnel to leave within 72 hours. This was rebuffed by the US State Department with Secretary of State Michael Pompeo issuing the following tweet with a link to the official statement