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Oil prices steadied ahead of global inflation, PMI data

Published 25/09/2023, 11:30 pm
© Reuters.
- -- Oil prices stabilized Monday as investors balanced off concerns about a hit to U.S. economic activity following last week’s Federal Reserve meeting with a tight supply outlook.

By 09:10 ET (13.10 GMT), the U.S. crude futures traded 0.1% higher at $90.10 a barrel, while the Brent contract climbed 0.1% to $92.03 - not far from last week’s 10-month high. 

Crude market steadies after last week’s hit

The crude market registered its first losing week in four last week, largely because of pressure from hawkish messaging from the Federal Reserve, as the central bank projected higher-for-longer interest rates, potentially hitting economic activity in the world’s largest energy consumer. 

This line also boosted the dollar to its highest levels in six months, which makes commodities denominated in the greenback, such as oil, more expensive for foreign buyers.

However, the market remains elevated after Russia suspended most fuel exports in a bid to address rising local gasoline prices. 

This move, although deemed temporary, is still expected to substantially tighten oil markets in the coming weeks, given that Russia and Saudi Arabia also cut production by a combined 1.3 million barrels per day for the remainder of the year.

U.S. oil rig count falls again  

Adding to the expectations of a very tight market towards the end of the year was the latest data from Baker Hughes, showing that the U.S. oil rig count fell by 8 over the last week to 507 - a drop of 114 rigs since the start of the year.

“The fall in rig count this year is what has given OPEC+ the confidence to cut output without having to worry too much about losing market share to non-OPEC producers,” said analysts at ING, in a note.

Speculative net long positions grow

Speculators remain constructive towards the market, with the speculative net long positions in the ICE (NYSE:ICE) Brent contract grew by almost 18,000 lots over the last reporting week.

“This is the largest net long speculators have held since March, and the increase over the week was predominantly driven by short covering,” ING added.

Similarly, speculators increased their net long positions in the Nymex WTI by just over 15,000 lots, to the largest position held since February last year.

Inflation, PMI data on tap

This week sees important inflation data from Japan, the eurozone and the U.S., while several Fed members, most notably Chair Jerome Powell on Friday, are due to speak, amid growing concerns that rising oil prices could trigger a resurgence in inflation, attracting more hawkish moves by global central banks. 

Additionally, traders will also focus on China’s purchasing managers’ index data for September, after PMIs for August showed some signs of improvement, particularly in the manufacturing sector.


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