NEW YORK — Oil prices tumbled about 7% to a four-week low on Friday on worries that interest rate hikes by major central banks could slow the global economy and cut demand for energy.
Also pressuring prices, the US dollar this week rose to its highest level since December 2002 against a basket of currencies, making oil more expensive for buyers using other currencies.
Brent futures fell $8.01, or 6.7%, to $111.80 a barrel by 2:04 pm EDT (1804 GMT), while US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude fell $9.18, or 7.8%, to $108.41.
Brent was on track for its lowest close since May 18 and WTI for its lowest since May 12. Brent was headed for its first weekly dip in five weeks, WTI for its first weekly decline in eight weeks.
There will be no US trading on Monday, for the Juneteenth holiday.
“Crude prices tumbled as the dollar rallied, Russia signaled oil exports should increase, and as global recession fears grow,” said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at data and analytics firm OANDA.
Global central bankers who quickly loosened monetary policy during the pandemic to avoid a recession, are now tightening to fight inflation. The Federal Reserve this week hiked US rates by the most in more than a quarter of a century.
“With the central banks making pretty substantial moves to limit growth via interest rate hikes and monetary tightening is showing up here in the petroleum complex,” said John Kilduff, partner at Again Capital LLC in New York, noting that slower economic growth should cut energy demand.
With the Fed expected to keep raising interest rates, open interest in WTI futures
US gasoline and diesel futures also slid, down about 6% on worries high pump prices will start to reduce demand.
Automobile group AAA said the price of diesel at the pump hit a record high $5.798 per gallon on Friday, while the price of gasoline hit a record high of $5.016 earlier in the week.
US energy firms this week added just four oil rigs as President Joe Biden slammed producers for profiting from sky-high prices instead of doing more to boost output.
Russia, meanwhile, expects its oil exports to increase in 2022 despite Western sanctions and a European embargo, the Russian deputy energy minister said on Friday, according to Tass news agency.
The global oil market continues to show signs of “turbulence,” Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said, blaming uncertainties over oil production recovery in Libya, Iran and Venezuela and a lack of energy infrastructure.
The market’s turbulence has certainly increased since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.
Russian gas flows to Europe fell short of demand on Friday as an early heat wave in the south boosted demand for air conditioning.
The European Union’s executive body recommended that Ukraine and Moldova become candidates for membership in the world’s largest trading bloc. (Additional reporting by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin in London, Arathy Somasekhar in Houston and Jeslyn Lerh in Singapore; Editing by Marguerita Choy, David Evans, David Gregorio and Leslie Adler)