Thursday, December 7

Oil prices retrace losses but head for weekly dip

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LONDON — Oil prices were broadly stable on Friday, retracing earlier losses, but were headed for weekly losses as concerns about a global economic slowdown weighed amid soaring inflation rates.

Brent crude futures were down 13 cents, or 0.1%, at $96.46 a barrel at 1339 GMT. US West Texas Intermediate crude was at $90.78 a barrel, up 28 cents, or 0.3%.

Both benchmark contracts were headed for weekly losses of around 1.5%.

Giving a floor to prices on Friday, US crude inventories fell sharply as the nation exported a record 5 million barrels of oil a day in the most recent week, with oil companies finding demand from European nations looking to replace Russian crude.

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Haitham Al Ghais, the new secretary general of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, told Reuters he was optimistic about oil demand into 2023.

OPEC is keen to ensure Russia remains part of the OPEC+ group, Al Ghais said ahead of a Sept. 5 meeting.

Supplies could tighten again when European buyers start seeking alternative supplies to replace Russian oil ahead of European Union sanctions that take effect from Dec. 5.

“We calculate the EU will need to replace 1.2 million barrels per day of seaborne Russian crude imports with crude from other regions,” consultancy FGE said in a note.

But a strong dollar has made oil more expensive for holders of other currencies, while equities, which often move in tandem with oil prices, also dropped on Friday.

In a sign of easing oil supply tightness, the price gap between prompt and second-month Brent futures has narrowed by about $5 a barrel since the end of July to under $1.

“Global recession and demand destruction are front and center of current concerns given weak data out of the US, euro zone and China. Signs of slowing economic growth are pervasive and could dent oil demand,” PVM analysts said. (Additional reporting by Florence Tan in Singapore and Yuka Obayashi in Tokyo Editing by Mike Harrison and Mark Potter)