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Oil price ends Monday below $90 as Russia relaxes fuel-export ban – MarketWatch

  • Commodity trading also has been digesting comments from the The Fed, which last week signaled interest rates could remain higher for longer
(Getty)

Isabel Wand and Williams Watts, MarketWatch

NEW YORK
EnergiesNet.com 09 25 2023

Oil futures settled nearly unchanged Monday after Russia announced plans to ease its fuel-export ban, while investors weighed tightening supplies and an uncertain demand outlook after the Federal Reserve last week signaled interest rates could remain higher for longer than anticipated.

Price action

  • West Texas Intermediate crude CL00, -1.26% CL.1, -1.25% for November delivery CLX23, -1.26% lost 35 cents, or 0.39%, to settle at $89.68 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

  • November Brent crude BRN00, -1.20% BRNX23, -1.25%, the global benchmark, gained 2 cents, leaving it virtually unmoved, at $93.29 a barrel on ICE Europe.

  • October gasoline RBV23, -1.44% fell 1 cent, or 0.7%, to end at $2.5439 a gallon.

  • October heating oil HOV23, -1.60% was off 4 cents, or 1.3%, to finish at $3.2622.

  • October natural gas NGV23, -1.25% gained 0.2 cent, or less than 0.1%, to settle at $2.6390 per million British thermal units.

Market drivers

U.S. energy prices settled below $90 per barrel on Monday after Russia lifted restrictions on fuel used as bunkering for some vessels, and on diesel with high sulfur content, just days after Moscow said it was temporarily banning exports of gasoline and high-quality diesel.

Last Thursday, Russia surprised oil markets by announcing a temporary ban on exports of all types of gasoline and high-quality diesel to all countries outside a circle of four ex-Soviet states with immediate effect, to stabilize fuel prices on the domestic market.

The ban on gasoline and high-quality diesel remains in place after Russia’s decision to tweak fuel export restriction on Monday, according to a government document cited by Reuters.

However, supporting the oil prices were Baker Hughes’ reports from Friday that the number of active U.S. rigs drilling for oil fell by 8 to 507 last week, marking the lowest level since February 2022.

Meanwhile, in a positive sign, China’s oil demand increased 0.3 million barrels per day to 16.3 million barrels last week, partly due to a recovery in jet fuel demand for international flights, said Fiona Cincotta, senior financial markets analyst at City Index.

“Concerns over the Chinese economic recovery have eased slightly in recent weeks, although investors will be waiting for industrial profits data due on Wednesday for further clues over the health of the Chinese recovery,” Cincotta said in emailed comments on Monday.

A strong U.S. dollar may also limit the upside in oil prices, making it more expensive for buyers with foreign currencies. The ICE U.S. dollar index DXY, a gauge of the buck’s value against a basket of its biggest rivals, rose 0.4% to 105.97 on Monday.

See: Stock investors face a wall of worry into year’s end, creating the need for protection

Oil futures have rallied since summer, with both WTI and Brent topping the $90-a-barrel threshold after Saudi Arabia in July cut production by 1 million barrels a day, recently moving to extend the cut through year-end. Russia had also moved to extend a curb on crude exports through year-end.

Remarks by Fed Chair Jerome Powell after last week’s policy meeting, which saw rates left unchanged, dampened hopes for a quick end to tight policy even if rates have peaked, said Raffi Boyadjian, lead market analyst at XM, in a note.

September policy decisions by the Fed, European Central Bank and Bank of England have likely cleared the way for a continued pause in further rate hikes, but there’s been no relief rally for assets because “the overriding message from all three central banks has been that high rates are here to stay,” Boyadjian wrote.

marketwatch.com 09 25 2023

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