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Crude Oil News Today: Will High Inventories and Fed Policy Keep Prices Low?

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Oil Posts Weekly Loss as Interest Rate Policy Spurs Fuel Demand Worries

Oil prices fell this week due to concerns that robust U.S. economic data might prompt the Federal Reserve to keep interest rates elevated for a longer period, potentially reducing fuel demand. Despite expectations of increased summer demand in the United States, the selloff led to Brent crude closing down 2.1% for the week, marking its longest losing streak since early January. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) also settled down 2.8% for the week.

Last week, Light Crude Oil futures settled at $77.72, down $1.86 or -2.34%.

Weekly Light Crude Oil Futures

Impact of Federal Reserve Interest Rate Policy

The Federal Reserve’s interest rate policy remains a significant concern for oil traders. Minutes from the latest Fed policy meeting revealed uncertainty among policymakers about whether current rates are sufficient to curb persistent inflation. While some officials were open to further rate hikes if inflation surged, Fed Chair Jerome Powell indicated that additional increases are unlikely. Higher interest rates raise borrowing costs, potentially slowing economic activity and reducing demand for oil.

Economic Indicators and Consumer Sentiment

U.S. economic data has painted a mixed picture. Consumer sentiment fell to a five-month low due to concerns over high borrowing costs. This pessimism suggests that household spending could slow, affecting fuel demand. Despite this, oil demand remains strong from a broader perspective. Analysts at Morgan Stanley expect global oil liquids consumption to increase by about 1.5 million barrels per day this year. U.S. gasoline demand, measured by the product supplied, reached its highest level since November, indicating robust domestic consumption as the summer driving season begins.

Inventory Data and Supply-Side Developments

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported an unexpected increase in U.S. crude oil inventories, rising by 1.8 million barrels, contrary to expectations of a drawdown. This inventory build added to bearish sentiment in the market. On the supply side, the oil rig count remained unchanged at 497, suggesting steady future output. The market is now looking ahead to the June 2 OPEC+ meeting, where the group will discuss extending voluntary output cuts of 2.2 million barrels per day. Analysts widely expect these cuts to be extended at least until the end of September.

Global Supply Adjustments

Russia admitted to exceeding its OPEC+ production quota in April due to technical reasons, highlighting its challenges in curbing output. Meanwhile, Venezuela aims to increase its oil production to 1.23 million barrels per day by December, up by 290,000 barrels per day from the start of the year, driven by additional drilling rigs. These developments add complexity to the global supply picture and could impact future pricing.

Market Forecast

Given the current factors, the short-term outlook for crude oil prices appears bearish. The combination of an unexpected rise in crude inventories and concerns over potential interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve suggests continued pressure on oil prices. Traders should prepare for volatility as the market responds to economic data and policy signals. Monitoring key indicators such as inflation trends, interest rate decisions, and OPEC+ output adjustments will be crucial in assessing the market conditions.

In conclusion, while robust gasoline demand provides some support, the overall sentiment leans bearish due to economic uncertainties and inventory builds. The next few weeks will be critical as traders assess the impacts of Federal Reserve policies and global supply factors on crude oil prices.

This article was originally posted on FX Empire

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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