Oil prices up but expected Fed rate hike paints bearish picture

Oil prices ticked up yesterday as OPEC and its allies keep producing less than their quotas, but are headed for a fourth monthly decline ahead of an expected further U.S. interest rate hike which may curb economic growth and fuel demand.

Brent crude futures for November settlement were up 41 cents, or 0.5 per cent, to $92.41 a barrel yesterday.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude for October delivery was at $85.82 a barrel, up 9 cents. The October contract expired yesterday and the more active November contract was at $85.53, up 17 cents, or 0.2 per cent.

A sign of underlying tight supply, a document from the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies led by Russia showed the group fell short of its output target by 3.583 million barrels per day (bpd) in August – around 3.5 per cent of global oil demand.

Meanwhile, the impasse over a revival of the Iran nuclear deal is also continuing to keep that country’s exports from fully returning to the market.

Still, both Brent and WTI are headed for their worst quarterly drops in percentage terms since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

The dollar remained firm near a two-decade high versus major peers on Tuesday, making oil more expensive for holders of other currencies, amid a slew of central bank meetings around the world this week.

The U.S. Federal Reserve on Wednesday is likely to raise interest rates by another 75 basis points to rein in inflation.

While other major economies are tightening, China, the world’s second-largest oil user, on Tuesday left its benchmark lending rates unchanged as it tries to balance supporting its sluggish economic growth against the weakening yuan.

The Bank of England will announce rates on Thursday.

Fears of aggressive central bank tightening are still driving concerns about a “quickly weakening global economy” and pressuring crude prices, said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at OANDA, in a note.

US crude oil stocks are estimated to have risen last week by around two million barrels, a Reuters poll showed. U.S. vehicle travel in July fell 3.3 per cent from a year earlier, dropping for a second month.

The US Energy Department will sell up to 10 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve for delivery in November, extending the timing of a plan to sell 180 million barrels from the stockpile to tame fuel prices. –Reuters

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