Oil falls as interest rate hike looms and Russian inflows remain strong

  • The US Federal Reserve, European Central Bank and Bank of England all expect to raise interest rates this week
  • The meeting of the OPEC + committee is unlikely to change the policy
  • Oil initially rose after a drone attack in Iran

LONDON (Reuters) – Oil prices extended losses on Monday as interest rate increases by major central banks and signs of stronger Russian exports offset rising tensions in the Middle East over a drone attack in Iran and hopes of a boost in Chinese demand.

Investors expect the US Federal Reserve to raise interest rates by 25 basis points on Wednesday, followed the next day by half-point increases by the Bank of England and the European Central Bank. Any deviation from this text would come as a shock.

“The risk-averse, cautious mood in the market ahead of central bank meetings is hurting risk assets, including oil,” said Fiona Cincotta, an analyst at City Index.

Brent crude fell 94 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $85.72 a barrel by 1436 GMT, while US West Texas Intermediate crude fell $1.40, or 1.8 percent, to $78.28.

The market was also pressured by indications of Russian supply strength despite the EU embargo and the G7 cap imposed over its invasion of Ukraine. Last week, both oil benchmarks recorded their first weekly loss in three.

Besides central bank meetings, the focus will also be on Wednesday’s meeting of key ministers from the OPEC+ group comprising the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and allies led by Russia.

Three OPEC+ delegates told Reuters on Monday that the OPEC+ committee meeting will likely not change production policy.

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“The boat isn’t really in stormy seas right now. Why rock something that isn’t moving as it is,” said Ole Hansen, Head of Commodities Strategy at Saxo Bank.

Oil brokerage PVM said OPEC+ could “surprise the markets with a small cut,” adding that it was unlikely to adjust policy.

Earlier on Monday, oil prices rose on tensions in the Middle East after a drone attack in Iran.

Stefano Grasso, a portfolio manager at 8VantEdge in Singapore, said that while it was not yet clear what was happening in Iran, any escalation there would likely disrupt the flow of crude.

Hopes of an increase in Chinese demand boosted oil in 2023. The world’s largest importer of crude oil pledged over the weekend to promote a recovery in consumption that would support demand.

Additional reporting by Alex Lawler. Additional reporting by Swati Verma, Florence Tan and Emily Chow. Editing by Louise Heavens, David Goodman and Emilia Sithole Mataris

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