Oil lower on demand concerns


Oil prices edged lower on Friday, as demand concerns emerged following this week’s rate hikes, although persisting supply tightness and new sanctions on Iran limited the downside.

Brent crude futures fell 35 cents, or 0.3%, to D119.46 a barrel at 0620 GMT, while US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures fell to D117.16 a barrel, down 43 cents, or 0.4%.

If losses hold through the day, Brent futures would post their first weekly dip in five weeks, while US crude futures would see their first decline in eight weeks.

“Brent crude and WTI saw some heavy selling intraday as markets tried to price in a plethora of central bank hikes and potential recessions,” said Jeffrey Halley, a senior Asia Pacific market analyst at OANDA.

“Unfortunately, none of that changes the fact that despite those risks, the world remains short of crude supply from OPEC+, and global refining capacity, squeezing gasoline and diesel prices higher in a stagflationary embrace,” Halley added.

Central banks across Europe raised interest rates on Thursday, some by amounts that shocked markets, and hinted at even higher borrowing costs to come to tame soaring inflation that is eroding savings and squeezing corporate profits. 

In South America, Argentina’s central bank raised its benchmark rate by the most in three years on Thursday, as it fights inflation running at over 60%. 

Those moves came on the heels of Wednesday’s 75 basis point rate hike by the US Federal Reserve, the highest since 1994.

However, investors remained focused on tight supplies after the United States announced new sanctions on Iran.

“The market has been watching negotiations between the West and Iran in anticipation of revival of the nuclear deal in recent months. This brought back into focus the ongoing supply side issues in the market,” ANZ Research analysts said in a note.

Washington on Thursday imposed sanctions on Chinese and Emirates companies and a network of Iranian firms that help export Iran’s petrochemicals, a step that may aim to raise pressure on Tehran to revive the 2015 nuclear deal.