Oil Steadies as Rate Hike Talk Offsets China Demand Hopes

Oil Steadies as Rate Hike Talk Offsets China Demand Hopes
Crude oil storage tanks are seen in an aerial photograph at the Cushing oil hub in Cushing, Okla., on April 21, 2020. (Drone Base/Reuters)

LONDON—Oil steadied on Friday as investors weighed the impact of sharp interest rate rises on energy consumption, offsetting hopes of higher Chinese demand and output cuts by OPEC and its allies.

To fight inflation, the U.S. Federal Reserve is trying to slow the economy and will keep raising its short-term rate target, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia President Patrick Harker said on Thursday.

Brent crude was up 3 cents to $92.41 a barrel by 1041 GMT. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude was down by 23 cents, or 0.3 percent, to $84.28.

"With several key Fed members taking turns at the hawk's pulpit this week arguing for even higher interest rates, it blunted optimism from China's reduced quarantine hopes," Stephen Innes, managing director at SPI Asset Management, said in a note.

"Everyone is pining for a China-reopening-driven commodity boost, but we are not there yet."

Brent, which came close to its all-time high of $147 a barrel in March, is on track for a weekly gain of less than 1 percent, while U.S. crude was set to fall over 1.5 percent. Both benchmarks dropped in the previous week.

China, the world's largest crude importer, has stuck to strict COVID-19 curbs this year, weighing heavily on business and economic activity and lowering demand for fuel.

Oil gained support from a looming European Union ban on Russian oil, as well as the output cut agreed earlier this month by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies including Russia, known as OPEC+.

By Alex Lawler
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