Oil Halts Losses As China Covid Shift Reduces Demand Concerns
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(Bloomberg) -- After three days of big losses, the oil market is finally taking a bit of a breather. Prices drifted within little changed territory as traders took a pause to assess whether further signs of China’s economy reopening could help support demand.
West Texas Intermediate traded near $74 a barrel. China eased a range of Covid restrictions on Wednesday, and the world’s top crude importer was also said to be shifting focus to the economy, with a growth target of about 5% under consideration. A softer dollar was also supportive for commodities priced in the currency.
Meanwhile, the American Petroleum Institute reported that US stockpiles decreased by more than 6 million barrels last week, according to people familiar with the figures. Official inventories data follow later Wednesday.
Crude has so far stumbled into the final month of the year, with the US benchmark heading for the first back-to-back quarterly drop since mid-2019 as central banks tighten monetary policy. Concerns about the global growth outlook, alongside a soft physical market and falling liquidity have weighed on prices.
The latest leg down came at a complex moment, with traders assessing the fall-out from Group of Seven curbs on Russian oil, including a price cap that’s meant to punish Moscow for the war in Ukraine.
“Inventories remain quite low, spare capacity is tight,” Francisco Blanch, head of commodity and derivatives research at Bank of America said in a Bloomberg TV interview. “All the demand growth that we forecast for next year is coming from emerging markets.”
In response to the cap, which has been set at $60 a barrel, Russia is considering setting a price floor for its international oil sales. Moscow may either impose a fixed price for the nation’s barrels, or stipulate maximum discounts to international benchmarks at which they can be sold.
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