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  • Tuesday, 21 May 2024
Oil Prices Extend Losses Amid Global Economic Concerns

Oil Prices Extend Losses Amid Global Economic Concerns

Weak Economic Momentum in China

Oil prices continued their downward trend in early trade on Wednesday, driven by concerns about global demand. One major factor contributing to this sentiment is the weak economic momentum observed in China, the world's largest oil importer. Despite faster-than-expected growth in the first quarter, several March indicators, including property investment, retail sales, and industrial output, suggest that domestic demand in China remains frail, exerting downward pressure on overall economic momentum.


Geopolitical Tensions in the Middle East

Although geopolitical tensions in the Middle East have historically buoyed oil prices, the current economic headwinds have overshadowed these concerns. Investors are closely monitoring developments in the region, particularly Israel's response to Iran's recent attack. The postponement of Israel's war cabinet meeting until Wednesday has added uncertainty to the situation, as Western allies consider imposing new sanctions against Iran. However, analysts are cautious about the potential impact of these sanctions on Iran's oil exports, as strict enforcement may risk boosting oil prices and antagonizing key buyer China.


Market Reaction and Analysis


Impact on Oil Prices

Against this backdrop, Brent futures for June and U.S. crude futures for May both registered losses in early trading on Wednesday. Brent futures slipped by 56 cents to $89.46 a barrel, while U.S. crude futures fell by 63 cents to $84.73 a barrel. The decline in oil prices reflects investors' concerns about weak global demand and the likelihood of a rise in U.S. commercial stockpiles.


Assessment by Market Strategists

Market strategists emphasize the sensitivity of oil prices to geopolitical risks, highlighting the wait-and-see approach amid tensions in the Middle East. They note that Israel's response will be pivotal in determining the potential for a wider regional conflict, which could significantly impact oil supplies. Additionally, strategists acknowledge the possibility of near-term weakness in oil prices due to expectations of contained tensions and the potential intervention of key oil producers like Saudi Arabia to stabilize global supply.


Expectations and Outlook

Analysts anticipate that U.S. crude oil inventories, which rose more than expected last week according to American Petroleum Institute figures, may further contribute to downward pressure on oil prices. The official data from the Energy Information Administration is eagerly awaited, with expectations of additional insights into inventory levels. Despite the geopolitical tensions in the Middle East, analysts do not foresee dramatic sanctions action on Iran's oil exports from the Biden administration, citing concerns about the potential impact on oil prices and diplomatic relations with China.

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