Oil holds soft tone on oversupply concerns, markets await Fed

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: An aerial view shows tugboats helping a crude oil tanker to berth at an oil terminal, off Waidiao Island in Zhoushan, Zhejiang province, China July 18, 2022. cnsphoto via REUTERS/File Photo

By Colleen Howe

BEIJING (Reuters) – Oil prices consolidated losses on Wednesday in Asian trade, after falling by more than 3% to six-month lows in the previous session on oversupply and demand concerns.

futures for February inched down 1 cent to $73.23 a barrel by 0207 GMT. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures for January dropped 2 cents to $68.59 a barrel.

The market stumbled in overnight trade as firmer-than-expected U.S. inflation readings for November bolstered the view the Federal Reserve was unlikely to cut interest rates early next year, which would weigh on consumption.

Meanwhile, the weekly average of Russian crude exports jumped to the highest since July, ANZ analysts said, compounding oversupply concerns and further throwing doubt on the recent output cut agreement by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies, together called OPEC+.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration also raised its forecast for supply in 2023 by 300,000 barrels per day to 12.93 million barrels per day from its previous report, in its most recent Short-Term Energy Outlook report.

The bearish outlook puts oil on track to continue falling on the week, continuing the trend of seven straight weeks of declines.

A policy meeting by the U.S. central bank that concludes later on Wednesday will determine the direction of markets, said Tina Teng, a market analyst with CMC Markets. “A more hawkish-than-expected stance by the Fed may cause a further drop in crude prices,” Teng said.

The Federal Reserve is widely expected to keep rates on hold. However, investors will focus on Fed officials’ views on the economy and where they see interest rates in the coming quarters.

The United Nations on Wednesday passed a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, with President Joe Biden warning that Israel was starting to lose international support because of the killing of civilians.

COP28 entered the final hours of negotiations on Wednesday morning as governments continued to wrangle over the future of oil and other fossil fuels. A draft deal on Monday had been criticised for failing to call for a phase-out of fossil fuels.


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