Oil Prices Inch Up as Markets Weigh Fed Rate Hike Fears, Debt Deal Hope

Slightly higher oil prices were seen in early Asian trade on Tuesday as investors cheered the prospect of a possible increase in the U.S. debt ceiling, but concerns over the Federal Reserve’s rate hike in June and slowing economic growth left investors on edge.

As of 9:54 AM BKK time, Brent crude futures rose 21 cents, or 0.27%, to US$77.28 per barrel, while US West Texas Intermediate crude was up 38 cents, or 0.52 %, to US$73.05 per barrel.

Major oil importer China is expected to release fresh economic data later this week, therefore traders were wary to make any bold moves. After a series of disappointing readings in April, statistics on Chinese company activity for the month of May is likely to show whether an economic revival in the country stalled further during the month.

As the Chinese economic recovery has slowed, oil traders have begun to question whether this year’s record high global crude demand will be driven by a resurgence in the world’s largest oil importer.

Next week’s meeting of the OPEC is expected to provide new supply signals in the wake of relatively mixed messages from Saudi Arabia and Russia over further output cuts.