Oil holds onto sharp decline as traders weigh growth outlook

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Oil held onto Friday’s sharp losses as traders weighed whether aggressive US monetary policy tightening will lead to a recession that would stymie consumption.

Brent traded near $114 a barrel after shedding more than 5% Friday as escalating concerns about the pace at which the Federal Reserve is raising rates rattle financial markets. Trading was thin Monday due to a US holiday. 

Daily oil production in Libya rebounded to around 800,000 barrels a day after the country’s energy minister said recently it had fallen to between 100,000 and 200,000 a day. That implied supply disruptions in the OPEC member’s production could be smaller than traders had expected.

Oil has soared in 2022 as the war in Ukraine disrupted supplies just as consumption increased following the pandemic. Despite the recent pullback, the US benchmark remains set for a record-setting ninth quarterly gain, contributing to rampant inflation. Last week, the Federal Reserve increased interest rates by 75 basis points to tame price gains, and leading policy makers have vowed to keep going until inflation starts to ebb.

“A slowdown in global economic growth now looks inevitable,” said Stephen Brennock, an analyst at brokerage PVM Oil Associates. “The backdrop of aggressive monetary tightening policies, a firmer US dollar and Russian hints of rising oil production and exports made for a potent bearish cocktail,” he said of Friday’s selloff. 

Prices

  • WTI for July delivery rose 0.7 per cent to $110.32 a barrel at 8:05 a.m. in New York.
  • Many US financial markets are closed Monday for a holiday.
  • Brent for August settlement added 0.5 per cent to $113.71.

Investors will hear more about the Fed’s assessment of the economy and the bank’s likely next steps when Chair Jerome Powell testifies before lawmakers later this week. On Sunday, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned that high prices are likely to stick through 2022 while growth slows.

At the weekend, US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm warned drivers of a “continued upward pull on demand,” and the likelihood of sustained high gasoline prices.

While the US projected in its June short-term outlook that local pump prices will average about $4.27 a gallon in the third quarter, the forecast could be “completely upended” by world events, for instance if the European Union were to fully cut off Russian oil, Granholm told CNN’s State of the Union.

© 2022 Bloomberg L.P.