Oil pumpjacks operate near residences in Los Angeles, California.
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Oil fell by more than $2 per barrel on Friday, swept up in a wider rout in global equities on fears of a looming recession, after central banks across Europe and North America signaled they will continue to battle inflation aggressively.
Brent crude futures fell by $2.17, or 2.7% to $79.04 a barrel. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures slipped $1.82, or 2.4%, to $74.29 a barrel.
The U.S. Federal Reserve indicated it will raise interest rates further next year, even as the economy slips toward a possible recession. On Thursday, the Bank of England and the European Central Bank raised interest rates to fight inflation.
“The talk around the campfire has suddenly become all about demand destruction in the face of a recession,” said Robert Yawger, director of energy futures at Mizuho.
“Economic situation is less than stellar. Not today, but we are drifting in the direction of testing $70 per barrel WTI again, and things could get very ugly from there.”
Both benchmarks fell 2% in the previous session as the dollar strengthened and central banks in Europe raised interest rates. Brent futures are still on pace for their biggest weekly gains since September, but that follows the worst rout since August in the previous week.
Both benchmarks had gained earlier in the week on worries about supply tightness due to a lengthy shutdown of the Keystone pipeline, which supplies Canadian heavy oil to refiners in the U.S. Midwest and Gulf Coast, following a massive oil leak.
However, while the Keystone outage is supportive for prices of heavier crude oil grades, it is “doing nothing” for lighter global benchmarks, such as WTI and Brent, said Matt Smith, lead oil analyst at Kpler.
Some optimism also came from the International Energy Agency’s projection on Chinese oil demand recovering next year, but that was largely overshadowed by the economic woes.
The U.S. Energy Department said on Friday it will begin repurchasing crude oil for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, the first purchase since this year’s record 180 million barrel release from the stockpile.
The department will buy 3 million barrels for delivery in February, a senior official told reporters.
Analysts from JPMorgan Commodity Research have said, based on their projections, they expect initial purchases of around 60 million barrels over the first half of next year.
Investors are still concerned by downside pressures, including the slow recovery of China’s demand due to a swelling number of COVID infections and a supply overhang in the West of Suez market.
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