Oil prices fell on Tuesday as the threat of further interest rate increases and ample Russian crude flows outweighed demand recovery expectations from China.
March Brent crude futures declined 25 cents to US$84.65 per barrel by 0715 GMT. The March contract expires on Tuesday and the more heavily traded April contract fell by 38 cents, or 0.45%, to US$84.12.
Likewise, U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures dropped by 44 cents, or 0.56%, to US$77.46 a barrel.
“Oil markets are facing downside pressure as risk-off trades prevail ahead of the Fed meeting, along with a strengthened USD,” said CMC Markets analyst Tina Teng.
The demand outlook is still uncertain as Russia’s exports seem unaffected by sanctions, despite China’s reopening, she added.
Investors expect the U.S. Federal Reserve will raise interest rates by 25 basis points on Wednesday, with a half-point increase by the Bank of England and European Central Bank the following day. Higher rates could slow the global economy and weaken oil demand.
The market also turned its attention to a planned virtual meeting on Feb. 1 at 1100 GMT of the ministers of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and others including Russia, a group known as OPEC+.
The panel is expected to recommend keeping the oil producer group’s current output policy unchanged when it meets this week, five OPEC+ delegates told Reuters on Monday.
OPEC+ agreed in October to cut its production target by 2 million barrels per day (bpd), about 2% of world demand, from November until the end of 2023.
Russia continues to supply the global market with its oil despite a European Union ban and G7 price cap imposed over its invasion of Ukraine, which pressured prices.
Decreases were cushioned by signs of potentially healthy demand coming from China, following growth in the country’s economic activity.
China’s official purchasing managers’ index (PMI), which measures manufacturing activity, rose to 50.1 in January from 47.0 in December, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said on Tuesday.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has raised its 2023 global growth outlook slightly due to “surprisingly resilient” demand in the United States and Europe, an easing of energy costs and the reopening of China’s economy after Beijing abandoned its strict COVID-19 restrictions.