Oil posts weekly loss on further rate increases by US

Markets continue to remain tight on supply curbs from Opec+ group and Russia's ban on fuel exports

An oilfield in Midland, Texas. New Fed projections suggest that interest rates could be held higher for a longer period, a scenario that could affect crude demand. Reuters
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Oil prices held steady on Friday but posted a weekly loss on concerns that interest rate increases by the US Federal Reserve could dampen fuel demand.

Brent, the benchmark for two thirds of the world’s oil, settled 0.03 per cent lower at $93.27 a barrel on Friday.

West Texas Intermediate, the gauge that tracks US crude, closed up 0.45 per cent at $90.03 a barrel.

Oil prices found support in Russia's decision to ban fuel exports, including diesel and petrol, a move that could tighten markets.

Russia said on Thursday that it had introduced temporary restrictions on the export of petrol and diesel from September 21, with only the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) exempted, Tass news agency reported.

The EAEU consists of several former Soviet states – including Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan – that have agreements with Russia on fuel exports.

“Crude prices were ready to continue pulling back but Russia’s abrupt decision to impose a full ban on gasoline and diesel exports sent oil higher,” said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at Oanda.

“Russia is trying to stabilise the domestic situation, which means only ex-Soviet states will have access to their exports.”

Oil markets are expected to tighten after Opec+ members Saudi Arabia and Russia announced this month that they would extend supply cuts of a combined 1.3 million barrels per day to the end of the year.

As part of the voluntary cuts, the kingdom is extending its output reduction of a million bpd until December.

Meanwhile, Russia is rolling over its export cut of 300,000 bpd until the end of the year.

“The oil market just finished pricing in the extension of a 300,000 bpd oil export cut, and now faces uncertainty as to how long this temporary ban will last,” Mr Moya said.

Concerns about rising interest rates are also weighing on oil prices.

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said the central bank was almost done raising interest rates but new projections from the regulator suggest that rates could be held higher for a prolonged period.

In its updated quarterly projections, a majority of Fed participants expect one more rate increase this year, which would bring the federal funds rate to 5.6 per cent.

Rates were left unchanged on Wednesday after the Federal Open Market Committee meeting. The committee will hold its next meeting from October 31 to November 1.

“We are prepared to raise rates further if appropriate and we intend to hold policy at a restrictive level until we're confident that inflation is moving down sustainability towards our objective,” Mr Powell said.

Brent is forecast to trade in the range of $90 to $100 a barrel over the coming months, before ending the year at $95, Swiss lender UBS said in a research note on Tuesday.

It does not expect Brent crude to move above $100 a barrel on a “sustained basis” as it would lead to higher US crude supply.

Updated: September 23, 2023, 5:10 AM