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    Tuesday, March 21, 2023

    Oil Prices Settles Up 2% as Banking Fears Fade

    Oil rose on Tuesday, extending a recovery from a 15-month low hit the previous day, as the rescue of Credit Suisse allayed concerns of a banking crisis that would hurt economic growth and cut fuel demand.

    A raft of measure to stabilize the banking sector, including a UBS takeover of Credit Suisse and pledges from major central banks to boost liquidity, have helped calm investors after uncertainty about the financial system roiled markets last week.

    “Fears of a banking crisis and a recession have eased, brightening the oil demand outlook at least for now,” said Fiona Cincotta, Senior Financial Markets Analyst at City Index.

    Brent crude was up 50 cents, or 0.7%, at $73.29 a barrel by 12:40 p.m. ET (16:40 GMT). U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) gained 84 cents, or 1.2%, to $68.48.

    “A ‘risk back on’ sentiment seems to be coming back to crude, as the latest selloff may very well have been exaggerated liquidation,” said Dennis Kissler, senior vice president of trading at BOK Financial.

    The Federal Reserve started its monetary policy meeting that on Tuesday. Markets expect a rate hike of 25 basis points, down from previous expectations of a 50 bps increase. Some top central bank watchers have said the Fed could pause further rate hikes or delay releasing new economic projections.

    The dollar index slipped, a day after hitting a five-week low. A weaker dollar makes oil cheaper for buyers holding other currencies, which can boost demand.

    Wall Street’s main indexes climbed after the rescue of Credit Suisse.

    A meeting of ministers from OPEC+, which includes members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) plus Russia and other allies, is scheduled for April 3. OPEC+ sources told Reuters the drop in prices reflects banking fears rather than a worsening supply-demand balance.

    Hedge fund manager Pierre Andurand agreed the latest price drop was speculative and not based on fundamentals. He predicted oil will hit $140 a barrel by year end.

    The CEO of energy trader Gunvor, Torbjorn Tornqvist, said he expected oil prices to move higher towards the end of the year as rising Chinese demand tightens oil balances further.

    Attention is now turning to the inventory report from the American Petroleum Institute due at 4:30 p.m. EDT (2030 GMT). A Reuters survey expects lower crude and product inventories.

    “The damage from the financial sector will still need to calm, and traders will be looking for verification that U.S. demand will not substantially contract,” BOK Financial’s Kissler said. -Reuters

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