Oil prices lower on strong dollar; Fed, China fears dent outlook

Oil prices retreated Tuesday, falling further from recent highs as a higher U.S. dollar added to concerns of weakening economic activity as the Federal Reserve keeps interest rates higher for longer.

By 09:35 ET (13.35 GMT), the U.S. crude futures traded 0.1% lower at $89.61 a barrel, while the Brent contract dropped 0.2% to $91.73.

Both contracts recorded 10-month highs last week, with the Brent contract climbing to nearly $96 a barrel and U.S. West Texas Intermediate hit $91 a barrel for the first time in 2023.

Crude hit by rising dollar, rate hike expectations

Last week’s hawkish Federal Reserve meeting has resulted in traders becoming increasingly wary of more increases in U.S. rates, which are expected to weigh on economic activity this year and potentially hurt crude demand. 

This stance has seen bond yields soar, helping the U.S. currency to a 10-month high, making crude, which is denominated in dollars, more expensive for international buyers.

“Surging oil prices have become the new concern for central banks, aggravating the current trilemma: how to balance slowing economies, still too-high inflation and the delayed impact of unprecedented rate hikes,” said analysts at ING, in a note.

“Balancing growth and inflation will become even harder and future interest rate decisions will not only be determined by these two variables but also by central banks’ credibility.”

Chinese economic worries mount

Also weighing have been growing concerns about the strength of the Chinese economic recovery, particularly after embattled developer China Evergrande (HK:3333) Group warned that it was unable to issue new debt, highlighting the ongoing crisis in the country’s important property sector. 

A string of major brokerages and investment banks have downgraded their outlook for Chinese economic growth this year, with the government’s official 5% forecast now seen as optimistic. 

Key Chinese purchasing managers’ index data for September are due later in the week, and are expected to show continued weakness in business activity in the world’s largest crude importer.

U.S. crude inventories seen falling again  

Oil markets had soared to just short of $100 a barrel last week on expectations of tighter fuel markets in the northern hemisphere, with Russia announcing a fuel export ban on top of the deep production cuts in Saudi Arabia and Russia. 

U.S. rig counts were also seen dropping to a 1-½ year low last week, while recent data showed a consistent decline in oil inventories. 

The American Petroleum Institute releases its forecast of U.S. crude stockpiles for last week later in the session. This is expected to show another draw, although not as large as last week’s fall of over 5 million barrels.

Source: Oil prices lower on strong dollar; Fed, China fears dent outlook (msn.com)

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