Oil creeps higher as markets weigh Fed fears, debt deal optimism

  • Investing.com
  • Commodities News
Oil creeps higher as markets weigh Fed fears, debt deal optimism
Credit: © Reuters.

Investing.com -- Oil prices reversed early gains to trade lower on Tuesday as fears of more interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve and slowing economic growth largely offset optimism over raising the U.S. debt ceiling.

Anticipation of more economic cues from major oil importer China also kept traders on edge, ahead of key manufacturing and service sector data for May due on Wednesday.

Brent oil futures fell 0.6% to $76.62 a barrel, while West Texas Intermediate crude futures fell 0.4% to $72.39 a barrel by 23:41 ET (03:41 GMT). Both contracts had initially risen as much as 0.9%.

Crude markets settled slightly higher after a choppy session on Monday, aided largely by the diminishing prospect of a U.S. debt default after lawmakers flagged a tentative deal to raise the spending limit. 

But fears of a more hawkish Fed, especially after hotter-than-expected inflation data released late last week, kept sentiment cautious. A stronger dollar also limited any major gains in crude.

Markets are now awaiting fresh cues for movement, starting with more economic signals from China due later this week. Business activity data for May is expected to show whether an economic rebound in the country slowed further during the month, after a string of weak readings for April.

Signs of a slowing economic rebound in China saw oil traders second guess expectations that a recovery in the world’s largest oil importer will drive global crude demand to record highs this year. Chinese oil imports also sank through April. 

Fresh cues on supply from a meeting of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries are due next week, following somewhat mixed signals from Saudi Arabia and Russia on more production cuts. The cartel and its allies had unexpectedly cut oil production in April, providing a short-lived boost to prices.

Focus is also on a string of U.S. economic readings this week, most notably nonfarm payrolls data for May due on Friday. Any signs of resilience in the labor market give the Fed more impetus to hike interest rates, and could offer negative cues to oil markets.

Despite recent gains, oil prices are still trading down over 5% for the year, amid consistent fears that worsening economic conditions will dent demand.


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