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Oil rises but set for weekly drop as fears of weaker demand limit gains

CNA – Oil prices rose yesterday but were headed for their first weekly loss in three weeks as worries about inflation and China’s COVID lockdowns slowing global growth offset concerns about dwindling supplies from Russia.

Brent crude futures were up 85 cents, or 0.8 per cent, at USD108.30 a barrel at 0900 GMT, while United States (US) West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures climbed 64 cents, or 0.6 per cent, to USD106.77 a barrel. Both benchmark contracts were, however, on track to post declines for the week, with Brent set to drop nearly four per cent and WTI almost three per cent.

The market is continuing to be pushed and pulled by the prospect of an European Union (EU) ban on Russian oil tightening supply and concerns about faltering global demand.

SPI Asset Management managing partner Stephen Innes said in a note that oil traders were looking “for a glimmer of light at the end of China’s gloomy lockdown tunnel”.

“Still, we continuously end up at square one with lower case counts weighted against the authorities doubling down on their zero COVID policy,” he added.

Storage tanks at Marathon Petroleum’s Los Angeles Refinery. PHOTO: CNA

Inflation and rate rises have driven the US dollar to 20-year highs, capping oil price gains as a stronger dollar makes oil more expensive when purchased in other currencies.

Analysts, however, continue to focus on the prospect of a EU ban on Russian oil, after Moscow imposed sanctions this week on European units of state-owned Gazprom and after Ukraine halted a key gas transit route.

“With European natural gas prices soaring, it is inevitable that some spillover into oil will occur,” OANDA senior market analyst Jeffrey Halley said in a note.

“An escalation by Russia on the sanctions front is likely to flow into oil price strength,” he added.

An International Energy Agency report on Thursday said rising oil production in the Middle East and the US and a slowdown in demand growth are “expected to fend off an acute supply deficit amid a worsening Russian supply disruption”.