Goldman raises short-term oil price outlook citing market rebalance

(Reuters) – Goldman Sachs <GS.N>, one of the most bearish forecasters on oil for about a year, on Monday raised its short-term price outlook for U.S. crude projecting steeper near-term cuts in global output.

“Pulling forward” its forecast, the bank now sees West Texas Intermediate (WTI) prices averaging $45 per barrel in the second quarter and $50 per barrel in the second half of 2016.

Oil prices jumped by more than 1 percent on Monday after Goldman said the market had ended almost two years of oversupply following global oil disruptions. [O/R]

The U.S. investment bank, whose advice is closely followed by a large number of hedge funds, has repeatedly said that oil prices could take a drop towards $20 to rebalance the market.

Goldman raised its global demand growth forecast by 200,000 barrels per day to 1.4 million barrels anticipating higher demand from Asia, especially China.

Oil markets have benefited from recent disruptions in Nigeria and a reduction in output of more than 1 million barrels per day in Canada due to a wildfire in Alberta.

The bank forecasts a more gradual decline in inventories in the second half of the year.

Last week, Goldman said the key to a sustainable recovery in oil prices would be stable declines in non-OPEC production, In its base case scenario, it expected a sustained deficit in the third quarter of the year, until which time oil prices would trade around current levels.

The top commodities bank, lowered its WTI price outlook for 2017 to $52.50 from $57.50 per barrel as it sees markets returning to surplus by the first quarter of 2017.

“We expect that the return of some of the production outages as well as higher Iran and Iraq production will more than offset lingering issues in Nigeria and our higher demand forecast,” it said.

(Reporting by Apeksha Nair in Bengaluru; editing by Jason Neely)

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