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Oil prices Friday tally a second straight losing week as Israel-Hamas war premium fades – MarketWatch

Crude-oil prices fall for the week. (Joe Raedle/Getty)
Crude-oil prices fall for the week. (Joe Raedle/Getty)

Mayra P. Saefong and William Watts, MarketWatch

EnergiesNet.com 11 03 2023

Oil futures declined on Friday, posting a second straight weekly fall, as fears of a widening of the Israel-Hamas war faded and investors renewed their focus on the outlook for demand.

Price action

  • West Texas Intermediate crude for December delivery CL00, -1.90% CL.1, -1.90% CLZ23, -1.90% fell $1.95, or 2.4%, to settle at $80.51 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, with prices for the contract down 5.9% for the week, according to Dow Jones Market Data.

  • January Brent crude BRN00, +0.40% BRNF24, +0.40%, the global benchmark, lost $1.96, or 2.3%, at $84.89 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe, for a weekly loss of 4.8%.

  • December gasoline RBZ23, -1.94% declined by 2% to $2.20 a gallon, with prices down 4.1% for the week.

  • December heating oil HOZ23, -3.54% lost 3.4% to $2.92 a gallon, posting a loss of 1.5% on the week.

  • Natural gas for December delivery NGZ23, +0.03% settled at $3.52 per million British thermal units, up 1.2% for the session and up 0.9% for the week.

Market drivers

“Volatility will remain in the energy sector,” said Tariq Zahir, managing member at Tyche Capital Advisors. “The situation in the Middle East all comes down to if there is any situation where Iran gets involved and the Strait of Hormuz starts seeing disruptions.”

See: Israel rules out Gaza cease-fire until hostages released, as U.S. presses for aid, civilian protection

This week, oil has not been the center of focus, with a decline in 10-year Treasury yields BX:TMUBMUSD10Y helping to provide a boost to equity markets, but the energy sector will “take center stage” if we see other countries getting involved in the Israel-Hamas war, Zahir told MarketWatch.

Analysts continue to monitor the Israel-Hamas war for signs of a potential spillover. Crude had rallied following the start of the war on fears that a wider conflict could see the U.S. more heavily enforce sanctions on Iranian crude exports, while a worst-case scenario could see Iran or its proxies threaten key transportation chokepoints and infrastructure in the region.

For now, the “call skew” in the oil market is down, making oil cheaper but also suggesting the market now thinks the “odds of a broader dust-up are lessening,” Stephen Innes, managing partner at SPI Asset Management, wrote in a note late Thursday. “However, even if there is only a minuscule chance of the whole Middle East powder keg explosion, the minuscule [chance] is too big when religion is stoking the narrative.”

‘Even if there is only a minuscule chance of the whole Middle East powder keg explosion, the minuscule [chance] is too big when religion is stoking the narrative.’ — Stephen Innes, SPI Asset Management

Overall, oil prices fell sharply this week, but did see a brief rise on Thursday.

The Federal Reserve announced another interest rate-hike pause on Wednesday afternoon, leading the market to believe that the rate-hike cycle is coming to an end, said StoneX’s Kansas City energy team, led by Alex Hodes, in a Friday note.

“One major factor the Fed has been watching is the job growth data, which the Fed would like to see ease, which would indicate the economy is slowing down,” they said.

Data released early Friday showed job growth slowed more than expected in October. The unemployment rate rose to 3.9% from 3.8% in September.

All of the softer U.S. economic data may have come as a relief to Fed policymakers, but “it’s weighed on crude oil, with a weaker economy meaning softer demand,” said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at OANDA, in market commentary.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Energy Information Administration is scheduled to release its monthly Short-term Energy Outlook report on Tuesday.

However, the weekly petroleum-supply report and data on natural-gas supplies will be delayed, with separate reports covering two weeks of data released on Nov. 15 and Nov. 16, respectively, due to a planned systems upgrade.

marketwatch.com 11 03 2023

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