Oil Prices Steady after Weekly Drop Caused by Increasingly Hawkish Fed

Oil prices were flat in early Asian trade on Monday, after settling down $2 a barrel on Friday as surging US supplies and prospects of more interest rate hikes dampened confidence over a rebound in Chinese demand.

By 9:43 a.m. (Thai time), the price of a barrel of Brent crude had risen by 33 cents, or 0.40%, to $83.33.  Crude oil futures for March delivery of U.S. West Texas Intermediate rose 18 cents to $76.52 per barrel. 

Once the United States announced larger crude and gasoline stocks, the benchmarks dropped by approximately 4% last week.

Energy Aspects analysts predict that the delivery point for WTI futures, Cushing, Oklahoma, would see increased stockpiles until May after the United States government announced plans to release 26 million barrels of petroleum from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR).

Oil prices were restrained in part due to market speculation that the U.S. Federal Reserve will keep hiking interest rates, which might strengthen the dollar.

CMC Markets analyst Tina Teng stated that investors in Asia are waiting for the People’s Bank of China to make a decision on its mortgage rates in order to help the revival of the property market and the economy. China is the world’s top crude oil importer.

Increased demand for transportation gasoline and the addition of new refineries are expected to push China’s imports to a record high in 2023, according to industry experts.