Oil prices dip on recession worries

Oil prices dipped in a choppy trading session yesterday as global recession fears and weak oil demand, especially in China, outweighed support from a large cut to the OPEC+ supply target.

Brent crude futures were down 76 cents, or 0.8 per cent, at $93.81 a barrel at 1044 GMT while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures fell 85 cents, or 1 per cent, to $88.26.

The Brent and WTI contracts both oscillated between positive and negative territory on Friday but were down more than 4 per cent over the week after two weeks of gains on concern over the global economy.

China, the world’s largest crude oil importer, has been fighting COVID flare-ups after a week-long holiday.

The country’s infection tally is small by global standards, but it adheres to a zero-COVID policy that is weighing heavily on economic activity and thus oil demand.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) on Thursday cut its oil demand forecast for this and next, warning of a potential global recession.

U.S. core inflation recorded its biggest annual increase in 40 years, reinforcing views that interest rates would stay higher for longer with the risk of a global recession. The next U.S. interest rate decision is due on November 1-2.

“The significant downward corrections of (oil) demand forecasts, above all for next year, have been depressing prices,” Commerzbank analysts said.

“We envisage little further downside potential, however. The market is set to be just about balanced despite weaker demand in the first half of the year due to the OPEC+ production cuts.”

The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies, together known as OPEC+, last week announced a 2 million barrel per day (bpd) cut to oil production targets.

Underproduction among the group means this will probably translate to a 1 million bpd cut, the IEA estimates.

Saudi Arabia and the United States, meanwhile, have clashed over the decision.

Oil prices were also supported by a steep drawdown in U.S. distillate stocks, though there has been a larger than expected surge in U.S. crude oil in storage. -Reuters

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