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The elusive oil market balance

Slow demand growth, bloated stocks and managed money are impeding the price recovery

Was May the high point-or will Opec come to the rescue? Brent futures jumped above $50 a barrel that month as unscheduled supply outages in Nigeria, Ghana and Canada took around 1.5m barrels a day of supply out of the market. Sentiment seemed to have turned. The long-sought rebalancing was underway. The International Energy Agency (IEA) said at the time that it expected "a dramatic reduction" in global crude stocks, which would fall by around 200,000 b/d in the second half of the year. That was remarkable-in the first half of the year, they were on course to grow by 1.3m b/d. The optimism was short-lived. By the beginning of August, Brent was on the slide again, even threatening to drop bene

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