Oil ends down after swinging on Russia fuel ban, U.S. crude stays below $90 

  • Investing.com
  • Commodities News
Oil ends down after swinging on Russia fuel ban, U.S. crude stays below $90 
Credit: © Reuters.

Investing.com -- Oil prices swung Thursday, initially rallying on Russia’s fuel export ban before ending lower as a renewed hawkish stance by the Federal Reserve boosted the dollar, weighing on most commodities. 

U.S. crude’s struggle to stay above the key bullish level of $90 per barrel also raised questions on how seriously some viewed the market as overbought.

New York-traded West Texas Intermediate, or WTI , crude for delivery in November settled at $89.63 per barrel, down 3 cents, or 0.03%, on the day. WTI earlier hit an intraday high of $90.98. The U.S. crude benchmark fell almost 1% on Wednesday, after reaching a 10-month high of $92.43 in the prior session. 

WTI has to re-enter $90 territory to avoid being pushed to mid-$80 levels, said Sunil Kumar Dixit, chief technical strategist at SKCharting.com. 

“WTI’s charts are showing that unless the $91 or $92 levels are reclaimed, a test of the Daily Middle Bollinger Band could take WTI to $86.75,” said Dixit. “Beyond that, a test of the 100-Week SMA, or Simple Moving Average, of $86 is very likely.”

London-traded Brent crude settled at $93.30 a barrel, down 23 cents, 0.3%. Like WTI, Brent also fell 1% on Wednesday. The global crude benchmark hit a 10-month high of $95.96 the day before.

Russia export ban suggests further squeeze in already tight market

Oil prices saw a volatile session on Wednesday after Russia temporarily banned exports of gasoline and diesel to all countries outside a circle of four ex-Soviet states with immediate effect in order to stabilize the domestic fuel market, the government said on Thursday.

The shortfall will force Russia's fuel buyers to shop elsewhere, prompting refiners to process more of a dwindling crude supply to meet that demand, said Tamas Varga of oil broker PVM.

“Crude prices were ready to continue pulling back but Russia’s abrupt decision to impose a full ban on gasoline and diesel exports sent oil higher,” said Ed Moya, analyst at online trading platform. “Russia is trying to stabilize the domestic situation, which means only ex-Soviet states will have access to their exports.” 

Crude prices have been on a tear since early June, with the rally accelerating in the past three weeks after major oil exporters Saudi Arabia and Russia colluded to remove a combined 1.3 million barrels from the market each day until the end of the year. 

But while the Saudi-Russian cuts and other production reductions would remove a total of about 3.0 million barrels from supply — or about 3% of daily requirement — some who follow the trade warn that inflationary pressure brought on by oil’s 30% rally over just three months could do the market in.

Europe’s woes, dollar rally are bigger for global markets now 

“The oil market just finished pricing in the extension of a 300,000 bpd oil export cut, and now faces uncertainty as to how long this temporary ban will last,” said Moya, the analyst at OANDA. “A stronger dollar is limiting today’s oil price rally as it comes along with a deteriorating outlook for Europe.”

The euro and other currencies on the bloc came under fresh stress Thursday from a potential end to central bank rate hikes in the region amid a weakening economic outlook. The dollar surged instead to a six-month high, limiting buying of dollar-denominated commodities by holders of other currencies.

The dollar strengthened after the Fed projected another quarter-percentage point rate  increase by the year-end, despite leaving rates unchanged for September itself at a policy meeting on Wednesday.

“We are prepared to raise rates further, if appropriate," Fed Chairman Jerome Powell told a news conference. "The fact that we decided to maintain the policy rate at this meeting doesn't mean we have decided that we have or have not at this time reached that stance of monetary policy that we are seeking."

Powell said energy-driven inflation, led by the 30% rally in oil prices since June, was one of the Fed’s bigger concerns.

The Fed had raised interest rates 11 times between February 2022 and July 2023, adding a total of 5.25 percentage points to a prior base rate of just 0.25%. 

Economists fear that the Fed’s renewed hawkish stance will dampen global growth though many also agree that a lid has to be put on oil prices if the Fed is to achieve its annual inflation target of 2%.

(Peter Nurse and Ambar Warrick contributed to this item)

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