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World | Aug 5, 2022

Oil prices set to end week near multi-month lows on recession fears

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3D-printed oil barrels and percentage symbols are seen in front of dollar banknotes in this illustration taken May 25, 2020. (Photo: REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/IllustrationFile)

LONDON (Reuters)

Oil prices on Friday (August 5) stayed near their lowest levels since February as concerns over a possible recession and a fall in fuel demand continued to rattle markets.

Brent crude rose 37 cents, or 0.4 per cent, to US$94.49 a barrel by 1226 GMT. West Texas Intermediate crude was up 27 cents, or 0.3 per cent, at US$88.81.

Prices have come under pressure this week as the market has fretted over the impact of inflation on economic growth and demand, but signs of tight supply kept a floor under prices.

Recession worries have intensified since the Bank of England’s (BOE) warning on Thursday of a drawn-out downturn after it raised interest rates by the most since 1995.

“Clearly, everyone is taking the threat of recession far more seriously as we’re still seeing a very tight market and producers with no capacity to change that,” said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at Oanda in London.

The fall in prices comes despite relatively tight supplies, as indicated by lingering backwardation, a market structure by which prompt prices are higher than those in future months.

The OPEC+ producer group agreed this week to raise its oil output goal by 100,000 barrels per day (bpd) in September, but this was one of the smallest increases since such quotas were introduced in 1982, OPEC data shows.

Supply concerns are expected to ratchet up closer to winter, with European Union (EU) sanctions banning seaborne imports of Russian crude and oil products set to take effect on December 5.

“With the EU halting seaborne Russian imports, there is a key question of whether Middle Eastern producers will reroute their barrels to Europe to backfill the void,” said RBC analyst Michael Tran.

“How this Russian oil sanctions policy shakes out will be one of the most consequential matters to watch for the remainder of the year.”

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