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Oil Slips on Fears Recession May Hit Demand

By Asharq Al-Awsat
A oil pump is seen at sunset outside Scheibenhard, near Strasbourg, France, October 6, 2017. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann/File Photo

Oil prices fell on Thursday in a volatile week as recession fears dogged global financial markets, outweighing supply concerns and geopolitical tensions in Europe.

Brent crude was down $1.92, or 1.8%, to $105.59 a barrel at 1202 GMT. WTI crude fell $1.79, or 1.7%, to $103.92 a barrel.

Oil prices are under pressure this week, along with global financial markets, amid jitters over rising interest rates, the strongest US dollar in two decades, concerns over inflation and possible recession.

Prolonged COVID-19 lockdowns in the world's top crude importer, China, have also impacted the market.

"Those recession concerns are drumming louder and taking oil lower this morning," said Howie Lee, an economist at Singapore's Oversea Chinese Banking Corp, pointing to strong US consumer price index (CPI) data on Wednesday.

US headline CPI for the 12 months to April jumped 8.3%, fueling concerns about bigger interest rate hikes, and their impact on economic growth.

"Soaring pump prices and slowing economic growth are expected to significantly curb the demand recovery through the remainder of the year and into 2023," the International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Thursday in its monthly report.

"Extended lockdowns across China ... are driving a significant slowdown in the world’s second largest oil consumer," Reuters quoted the agency as saying.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) cut its forecast for growth in world oil demand in 2022 for a second straight month, citing the impact of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, rising inflation and the resurgence of the Omicron coronavirus variant in China.

A pending European Union ban on oil from Russia, a key EU supplier of crude and fuels, could further tighten global supplies.

The EU is still haggling over the details of the Russian embargo. The vote needs unanimous support, but it has been delayed as Hungary opposes the ban because it would be too disruptive to its economy.

"The proposed oil embargo ... is expected to make the underlying oil balance even tighter than it already is, especially on the product front. Implementing these sanctions, however, is an arduous task," PVM analysts said.

On Wednesday, oil prices jumped 5% after Russia sanctioned 31 companies based in countries that imposed sanctions on Moscow following the Ukraine invasion.

That created unease in the market at the same time that Russian natural gas flows to Europe via Ukraine fell by a quarter. It was the first time exports via Ukraine have been disrupted since the invasion.

Price gains have been limited by worries about demand destruction in China, as it attempts to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

In the United States, commercial crude inventories rose last week because of a record release of oil from the US strategic reserves, but gasoline stockpiles declined ahead of the peak summer driving demand season, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.

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Dive Deeper:
EU oil ban adds pressure on Russia but obstacles remain: Analysts
For a complete embargo to be successful, the bloc has yet to convince countries which rely more heavily on Moscow.
EU oil embargo would push Russian crude output to 18-year low, IEA says
Bloc’s plans could drive down Russian supply by 3 million barrels a day, according to agency
Asian stocks mixed, Europe opens higher as investors fret over inflation
Hong Kong (AFP) - Asian stocks were mixed on Wednesday, following a volatile day on Wall Street with investors concerned…
Asian stocks open mixed as investors fret over oil prices
Hong Kong (AFP) - Asian stocks opened mixed on Wednesday, following a volatile day on Wall Street that had investors…
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
What’s the Fallout from Ukraine’s Pipe Shutdown?
The shutdown of a gas pipeline in eastern Ukraine has sent a fresh wave of energy jitters through Europe. The…
The gas 'poker game' between Russia and Europe
Paris (AFP) - The drop in Russian gas flows to the European Union has had no major effect on supplies,…
Get all your news in one place