Oil prices rebound on improving China outlook after 4% fall

[15-03-2023 09:52 AM]

Ammon News - Oil prices rebounded on Wednesday on an improving fuel demand outlook in China after interest rate concerns and a broader market-sell off triggered by the collapse of an American bank dragged futures lower by more than 4 per cent the previous day.

Brent, the benchmark for two thirds of the world’s oil, was trading 1.43 per cent higher at $78.51 a barrel at 9am UAE time.

West Texas Intermediate, the gauge that tracks US crude, was up 1.51 per cent at $72.41 a barrel.

On Tuesday, Brent settled 4.11 per cent lower at $77.45 a barrel while WTI was down 4.64 per cent at $71.33.

Opec on Tuesday raised its forecast for Chinese oil demand growth in 2023 on the relaxation of Covid-19 measures, but stuck to its global demand estimate of 2.3 million barrels per day, citing a potential economic slowdown in Europe and the Americas.

The oil producers' group, which expects China’s crude consumption to rise by about 700,000 bpd this year, said the world economy had continued to face challenges ranging from elevated inflation to the Ukraine war.

“Overall, oil demand continues to be driven by the ongoing recovery in the travel and transportation sectors,” it said.

China, the world’s second-largest economy and top crude importer, reopened its borders in January after adhering to a strict zero-Covid policy for about three years.

The country is aiming for gross domestic product growth of 5 per cent in 2023, after it grew by 3 per cent in 2022.

The US consumer price index, a key inflation metric, rose by 0.4 per cent in February from January, the Labour Department reported on Tuesday. On an annual basis, prices increased by 6 per cent, which was down from 6.4 per cent in January.

Core inflation, which excludes food and energy prices, grew by 0.5 per cent from January and increased by 5.5 per cent on the year.

“A mostly in-line inflation report sealed the deal for at least one more [US Federal Reserve] rate hike,” said Edward Moya, a senior market analyst at Oanda.

“The Fed’s tightening work is not done just yet and the chances are growing that they will send the economy into a mild recession, and as risks remain that it could be a severe one,” he said.

Global markets have been hit hard after the failure of California-based Silicon Valley Bank triggered concerns of a US banking crisis.

On Friday, US regulators closed SVB, the 16th largest bank in the country, after depositors hurried to withdraw money amid concerns about the bank’s health.

It was the second biggest retail bank failure in US history, after the 2008 collapse of Washington Mutual due to the global financial crisis.

US crude stocks recorded a small increase of 1.1 million barrels last week, according to the American Petroleum Institute.

The US Energy Information Administration's weekly crude oil and petroleum inventories report will be released later today.

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