Oil prices steady as Middle East war counters China demand concerns

Credit: REUTERS/David McNew

By Natalie Grover

LONDON, March 11 (Reuters) - Global benchmark Brent held steady, hovering around $82 a barrel on Monday, as persistent geopolitical concerns in the Middle East and Russia collide with jitters about softening demand in China.

Brent LCOc1 futures were up 26 cents at $82.34 a barrel as at 1015 GMT, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) CLc1 rose 23 cents to $78.24.

Both benchmarks ended the week lower on bearish Chinese data that signaled weaker demand in the world's leading crude importer.

Brent closed down 1.8%, although the contract has remained above $80 a barrel for just over a month. Meanwhile, WTI ended 2.5% lower.

"The oil complex is in a wait-and-watch mode over the Gaza war and its cascading conflicts, with a question-mark over Israel's military plans, now that the Muslim holy month of Ramadan is starting without a ceasefire and hostage deal," said Vandana Hari of Vanda Insights.

China's imports of crude oil rose in the first two months of the year compared with the same period in 2023, but they were weaker than the preceding months, data showed on Thursday, continuing a trend of softening purchases by the world's biggest buyer.

On the supply side, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies, collectively known as OPEC+, agreed early this month to extend voluntary oil output cuts of 2.2 million barrels per day into the second quarter.

"With OPEC+ extending its voluntary production cut agreement until the end of second quarter, this could tighten the market as demand recovers from its seasonal lull," ANZ Research analysts said.

(Reporting by Natalie Grover in London, Yuka Obayashi in Tokyo and Mohi Narayan in New Delhi; Editing by Lincoln Feast and Ros Russell)

((natalie.grover@thomsonreuters.com; Twitter/X: @NatalieGrover;))

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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