Oil prices firm, but rise in US inventories looms

Brent crude futures rose 63 cents, or 0.8 per cent, to $81.23 a barrel by 1350GMT, compared with about $98 a barrel on the eve of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a year ago

By Reuters

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Published: Thu 23 Feb 2023, 8:55 PM

Oil prices firmed on Thursday after Brent crude posted its biggest one-day loss for seven weeks in the previous session, with gains on Russian supply curbs capped by an expected rise in US inventories.

Brent crude futures rose 63 cents, or 0.8 per cent, to $81.23 a barrel by 1350GMT, compared with about $98 a barrel on the eve of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a year ago.


West Texas Intermediate crude futures (WTI) advanced 75 cents, or one per cent, to $74.70 after six sessions of losses.

Lending some support to prices, Russia plans to cut oil exports from its western ports by up to 25 per ent in March, exceeding its announced production cuts of 500,000 barrels per day.


Both oil benchmarks lost more than $2 in the previous session on expectations of further increases to interest rates.

Minutes from the latest US Federal Reserve meeting on Wednesday showed that a majority of Fed officials agreed that the risks of high inflation warranted further rate hikes.

The policymakers also suggested that a shift to smaller increases would let them calibrate more closely with incoming data.

The dollar, meanwhile, has strengthened against a basket of other currencies in recent weeks, making oil more expensive for holders of other currencies.

Oil price gains were also kept in check by signs of further crude inventory builds.

US crude oil and fuel inventories rose by 9.9 million barrels last week, according to market sources citing American Petroleum Institute figures.

US oil inventories have climbed every week since mid-December, stoking worries about demand.

A Reuters poll had forecast a 2.1 million barrel increase in crude stockpiles last week. Official data from the US Energy Information Administration is due later on Thursday.

While a stronger dollar remains a near-term headwind for crude, we expect lower Russian production and China’s reopening to tighten the oil market and support prices, UBS analysts said. — Reuters


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