Oil prices fall, U.S. Fed rate decision in focus


Oil prices declined on Monday ahead of a U.S. Federal Reserve meeting as investors tried to gauge the central bank’s appetite for further rate hikes, while concerns about China’s fuel demand growth and rising Russian crude supply weighed on the market.

Brent crude futures fell 70 cents, or 0.94%, to $74.09 a barrel while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was at $69.53, down 0.91%.

Both benchmarks posted their second straight weekly declines last week as disappointing China economic data raised concerns about demand growth in the world’s largest crude importer, offsetting a boost in prices from Saudi Arabia pledging to cut production by 1 million barrels per day (bpd) in July.

The Fed’s rate hikes have strengthened the greenback, making dollar-denominated commodities more expensive for holders of other currencies and weighing on prices.

Most market participants expect the U.S. central bank to leave interest rates unchanged when it concludes its two-day monetary policy meeting on Wednesday.

On the supply side, while Saudi Arabia has cut oil production four times in the past year, Russian supply has held up as sanctions were engineered in a way to have less of an impact on output, Blanch said.

Russian oil exports to China and India have grown despite the implementation of the European Union’s embargo and the Group of Seven’s price cap mechanism that started in early December.

Goldman Sachs cut its oil price forecasts on higher-than-expected supplies from Russia and Iran and raised 2024 supply forecasts for the two producers and Venezuela by a total 800,000 bpd.

The bank’s December crude price forecast now stands at $86 a barrel for Brent, down from $95, and at $81 a barrel for WTI, down from $89.

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