© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Crude oil storage tanks are seen in an aerial photograph at the Cushing oil hub in Cushing, Oklahoma, U.S. April 21, 2020. REUTERS/Drone Base/File Photo
By Stephanie Kelly
NEW YORK (Reuters) -Oil prices leapt nearly 6% on Friday, with posting its highest weekly gain since February, as investors priced in the possibility that the conflict in the Middle East could widen as Israel began ground raids inside the Gaza Strip.
Israel’s announcement marked a shift from an air war to ground operations to root out Hamas fighters a week after the militant Palestinian group’s deadly rampage in southern Israel.
Brent futures settled up $4.89, or 5.7%, at $90.89 per barrel. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude gained $4.78, or 5.8%, to $87.69 a barrel.
Both benchmarks posted their highest daily percentage gains since April.
Brent also recorded a weekly gain of 7.5%, its biggest such increase since February. WTI climbed 5.9% for the week.
The conflict in the Middle East has had little impact on global oil and gas supplies, and Israel is not a big producer. Investors and market observers, however, are assessing how it could escalate and what it might mean for supplies from nearby countries in the world’s top oil producing region.
Some residents in Gaza were abandoning their homes on Friday to escape from the path of an Israeli onslaught, after Israel ordered more than a million people to leave the northern half of the territory within 24 hours. Hamas told them not to go.
Iran’s Oil Minister Javad Owji said on Friday oil prices are expected to reach $100 per barrel due to the current situation in the Middle East, according to the ministry’s news agency SHANA.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian on Friday discussed the Israeli-Hamas conflict with the head of the powerful Tehran-backed Lebanese armed group Hezbollah, which has launched its own cross-border attacks on Israel.
If the U.S. tightens enforcement of sanctions on Iran’s oil exports due to any role it may have in the conflict, then Iran’s oil supply could fall.
Saudi Arabia is putting U.S.-backed plans to normalize ties with Israel on ice, two sources familiar with Riyadh’s thinking said, signalling a rapid rethinking of its foreign policy priorities as the conflict escalates.
That may have implications for supply as Saudi Arabia told the White House it was willing to boost oil production early next year to help secure the deal, the Wall Street Journal reported last week.
Also boosting prices was the U.S. move on Thursday to impose the first sanctions on owners of tankers carrying Russian oil priced above the Group of Seven’s price cap of $60 a barrel, an effort to close loopholes in the mechanism designed to punish Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine.
Russia is the world’s second-largest oil producer and a major exporter, and the tighter U.S. scrutiny of its shipments could curtail supply.
“The oil market is anticipating that the U.S. will more strictly enforce sanctions on both Russia and Iran, and that will lead to a reduction in supplies,” said Andrew Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) this week kept its forecast for growth in global oil demand, citing signs of a resilient world economy so far this year and expected further demand gains in China, the world’s biggest oil importer.
On the U.S. supply front, drillers this week added four oil rigs in the biggest weekly rise since March, Baker Hughes said. [RIG/U]
Money managers cut their net long futures and options positions in the week to Oct. 10 by 39,556 contracts to 240,204 during the period, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) said.
Oil prices steady on OPEC+ cut uncertainty and Middle East tension
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: An aerial view shows tugboats helping a crude oil tanker to berth at an oil terminal, off Waidiao Island in Zhoushan, Zhejiang province, China July 18, 2022. cnsphoto via REUTERS/File Photo
By Natalie Grover
London (Reuters) -Oil prices were little changed on Tuesday against a backdrop of uncertainty over voluntary output cuts by the OPEC+ group of producers, tensions in the Middle East and some encouraging economic signals in Europe.
futures edged down by 25 cents, or 0.3%, to $77.78 a barrel by 1301 GMT. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures lost 21 cents, or 0.3%, to $72.83.
Comments by Saudi Arabia’s energy minister that OPEC+ production cuts could continue past the first quarter of 2024 lent some price support, said OANDA analyst Kelvin Wong.
Oil prices had declined on Monday on doubts that OPEC+ supply cuts would have a significant impact, said CMC Markets (LON:) analyst Tina Teng.
On Tuesday, however, the Kremlin said that the cuts agreed by the OPEC+ group will take time to kick in.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies including Russia, together known as OPEC+, agreed on Thursday to voluntary output cuts of about 2.2 million barrels per day (bpd) for the first quarter of 2024.
At least 1.3 million bpd of those cuts, however, were an extension of voluntary curbs that Saudi Arabia and Russia already had in place.
The additional cuts were below the 1 million bpd reduction that was already baked into market expectations in the run-up to the OPEC+ meeting, FGE analysts wrote in a note, adding that in practice they expect the overall OPEC+ cut to be closer to 500,000 bpd more than the reductions to fourth-quarter output.
Meanwhile, the resumption of fighting in the Israel-Hamas war has stoked supply concerns, as did attacks on three commercial vessels in international waters in the southern Red Sea.
There was a bright spot on the demand side, with European Central Bank board member Isabel Schnabel telling Reuters the bank can take further interest rate hikes off the table after a “remarkable” fall in inflation.
In the United States, however, data on Tuesday showed factory orders fell by more than analysts had expected in October and the most in more than three years, raising concerns about the health of U.S. demand.
That bolstered the view that increases to interest rates are beginning to limit spending, analysts said.
Oil falls on demand fears and doubts over OPEC+ cuts
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: An aerial view shows a crude oil tanker at an oil terminal off Waidiao island in Zhoushan, Zhejiang province, China January 4, 2023. China Daily via REUTERS
By Alex Lawler
LONDON (Reuters) – Oil prices extended declines on Monday, pressured by investor scepticism over the latest OPEC+ decision on supply cuts and uncertainty surrounding global fuel demand, though the risk of supply disruptions from the Middle East conflict limited losses.
Monday’s fall adds to a 2% decline last week after the supply cuts announced on Thursday by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and allies including Russia, together known as OPEC+.
futures were down 45 cents, or 0.6%, at $78.43 a barrel by 1243 GMT. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures fell 43 cents, or 0.6%, to $73.64.
“Crude seems to be under continued pressure from the OPEC+ decision,” said Vandana Hari, founder of oil market analysis provider Vanda (NASDAQ:) Insights.
The OPEC+ cuts were voluntary in nature, raising doubts about whether or not producers would fully implement them. Investors were also unsure about how the cuts would be measured.
“The OPEC+ ‘deal’ last week was unconvincing to say the least,” said Craig Erlam, analyst at brokerage OANDA. “And with markets seemingly anticipating more of an economic slowdown next year, the announcement simply doesn’t go far enough.”
Surveys on Friday showed global manufacturing activity remained weak in November on soft demand, with euro zone factory activity contracting, while there were mixed signs on the strength of China’s economy.
Geopolitical considerations were back in focus as fighting resumed in Gaza, lending some support to prices. Three commercial vessels came under attack in international waters in the southern Red Sea, the U.S. military said on Sunday.
Elsewhere, Western countries have stepped up efforts to enforce the $60 a barrel price cap on seaborne shipments of Russian oil imposed to punish Moscow for its war in Ukraine.
Washington on Friday imposed additional sanctions on three entities and three oil tankers.
Gold prices hit record high on bets of early Fed rate cuts
Investing.com — Gold prices touched an all-time high on Monday, but later pared back some of these gains, as traders bet on the potential for a Federal Reserve interest rate cut next year.
By 07:26 ET (12:26 GMT), was mostly unchanged at $2,071.29 a troy ounce, retreating slightly from an earlier rally that had lifted the typical safe haven asset to a record $2,135 per troy ounce. Gold posted strong gains last week, and also rose for a second consecutive month in November.
The yellow metal has appreciated sharply in recent sessions as easing inflation, soft labor market data, and less-hawkish signals from the Fed bolstered speculation that the bank will bring down borrowing costs from a more than two-decade peak in 2024.
Near-term demand for gold was also fueled by an attack on an American warship and commercial vessels in the Red Sea, which ramped up concerns over an escalation in the violence in the Middle East.
Speaking on Friday, Fed Chair Jerome Powell reiterated his stance that U.S. rates will remain higher for longer. But some changes in his language — particularly an acknowledgement of progress made towards curbing inflation and the potential for a “soft landing” for the U.S. economy — reinforced expectations that the Fed will no longer hike rates in December and possibly begin cutting them by March 2024.
More economic cues on tap this week
shows an almost 97% chance that the Fed will keep rates on hold at a range of 5.25% to 5.50% when policymakers meet later this month. Meanwhile, there is a more than 50% probability that the central bank will trim rates by 25 basis points as soon as March of next year, up from around 21% one week ago.
The prospect of falling borrowing costs bodes well for gold, given that elevated rates push up the opportunity cost of investing in non-interest bearing assets like the metal. This notion had battered bullion prices over the past year.
But markets still have a slew of economic figures to assess. data for November — a key gauge of the labor market — is due later this week, while inflation readings for the remainder of the year are also slated for release in the coming weeks.
Some facets of the labor market remain strong, while inflation is still comfortably above the Fed’s 2% target — a trend that, if persistent, may diminish the chances of an early rate cut.
Ambar Warrick contributed to this report.
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