Oil falls again after last session’s tumble as economic worries grow

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LONDON: Oil edged lower on Wednesday after slumping in the previous session, weighed down by concerns about weak demand due to the state of the global economy.

Brent futures for March delivery fell 13 cents to $81.97 a barrel, a 0.1 per cent loss, by 0511 GMT. US crude dropped 28 cents, or 0.3pc, to $76.65 per barrel. Both benchmarks plunged more than 4pc on Tuesday, with Brent suffering its biggest one-day loss in more than three months.

“Warning signs of global recession, China’s lacklustre recovery with surging Covid-19 cases, renewed strength in the US dollar and dampened risk sentiment are all catalysts keeping oil prices in check overnight,” said Yeap Jun Rong, Market Analyst at IG, in a note. The Chinese government increased export quotas for refined oil products in the first batch for 2023, signalling expectations of poor domestic demand.

Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia may further cut the prices for its flagship Arab Light crude grade to Asia in February, after they were set at a 10-month low this month, as concerns of oversupply continued to cloud the market. “The market remains worried about the impact of macro factors such as the economic downward pressure,” said analysts from Haitong Futures.

The head of the International Monetary Fund warned that much of the global economy would see a tough year in 2023 as the main engines of global growth — the United States, Europe and China — are all experiencing weakening activity.

The Fed had raised interest rates by 50 basis points (bps) in December after four consecutive increases of 75 bps each. If the Fed intensifies its rate hikes, that could slow the economy and hamper fuel consumption.

Lending oil some support, the dollar weakened on Wednesday after posting big gains in the previous session. A weaker dollar typically boosts demand for oil as dollar-denominated commodities become cheaper for holders of other currencies.

Industry group American Petroleum Institute is due to release data on US crude inventories at 2030 GMT on Wednesday. The Energy Information Administration, the statistical arm of the US Department of Energy, will release its own figures at 10.30am.

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