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Saturday, 13. April 2024

Oil Prices Approach 3-Week Highs Amid Middle East Tensions, Chinese Demand

3angleFX

Oil prices held steady on Tuesday, lingering near three-week highs amid heightened tensions in the Middle East and a resurgence in demand from China.

Brent futures dipped slightly, decreasing by 11 cents to reach $83.45 per barrel by 0413 GMT.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude for April delivery dipped 11 cents to $78.35 a barrel. Meanwhile, the March WTI contract gained 36 cents to $79.55 a barrel as traders readied for its expiration during the day. There wasn’t any settlement for WTI on Monday due to a U.S. public holiday.

IG market analyst Tony Sycamore noted that crude markets were “marginally lower” amid quiet trading over the Presidents‘ Day holiday in the U.S. He highlighted that demand concerns offset ongoing Middle Eastern geopolitical tensions.

The Iran-aligned Houthis persisted with their attacks on shipping lanes in the Red Sea and Bab al-Mandab Strait, targeting at least four more vessels with drone and missile strikes since Friday. Among them, the Rubymar cargo vessel, registered in Belize, flagged in Britain, and managed by Lebanon, faced imminent sinking in the Gulf of Aden, as per Houthis‘ claims. This escalates their efforts to disrupt global shipping in support of Palestinians in Gaza.

“Signs of stronger demand in China also boosted sentiment,” wrote ANZ analysts in a note.

Tourism revenues in China soared by 47.3% year-on-year, surpassing pre-COVID levels during the national Lunar New Year holiday that concluded on Saturday.

China also reduced a benchmark reference rate for mortgages more than anticipated on Tuesday, aiming to bolster its struggling property market and economy.

Although price-supportive factors existed, they didn’t fully offset demand concerns. A bearish report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) last week lowered the 2024 oil demand growth forecast, anticipating that renewable energy would replace fossil fuel usage.

 

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