Oil Settles Flat as Investors Await U.S. Fed Comments

Oil prices were flat early Wednesday as investors waited for remarks from the U.S. Federal Reserve in response to recent data indicating the prospect of future interest rate hikes, which may slow economic growth and curb global fuel consumption.

By 10.17 a.m. (Thai time), after sliding 1.2% on Tuesday, Brent crude futures for April delivery had risen 14 cents to $83.19 per barrel. The price of a barrel of April West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude has risen to $76.48.

The minutes of the Fed’s recent meeting will be released on Wednesday, giving traders a view of how high policymakers expect interest rates to rise after recent statistics indicated stronger-than-expected U.S. employment and consumer prices.

The United States is the largest consumer of oil in the world, but other economic data showed some worrying indicators. In January, sales of previously owned homes dropped to their lowest level since October 2010. This marked the 12th consecutive monthly decline, the longest such sequence since 1999.

Oil prices have been supported recently by forecasts of tighter global supplies and increased demand from China. Experts predict that China’s oil imports will reach a new high in 2023 as demand for transportation fuel rises and new refineries come online.