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Global Oil Markets Fluctuate Amid Middle East Tensions and Prospects of Monetary Easing

Bruno T
Macro
December 28 2023 2:39AM

Oil futures prices fell about 1% on Thursday, as tensions disrupting maritime transport in the Red Sea eased. However, the conflict in the Middle East is worsening.

The Danish shipping company Maersk reported that it has scheduled several dozen container ships to travel through the Suez Canal and the Red Sea in the coming weeks after having temporarily suspended these routes earlier this month, due to attacks by the Houthi militia in Yemen, backed by Iran.

At the moment, a United States-led operation to cool tensions in the Red Sea has not yet produced the expected coordinated action.

A week after the launch of the maritime force led by the United States, many allies do not want to be associated with it, partly reflecting the rifts created by the conflict in Gaza, which led the United States to maintain firm support for Israel, even with increasing international criticism of its offensive.

The prospect of a prolonged Israeli military campaign in Gaza and the repercussions of the conflict on attacks on ships in the Red Sea continue to be the main drivers of market sentiment.

Israeli forces attacked the center of Gaza by land, sea, and air on Wednesday, a day after the Chief of Staff of Israel, Herzi Halevi, told reporters that the war would continue “for many months.”

United States government data on fuel stocks will be released on Thursday, delayed by a day due to the Christmas holiday on Monday.

Data from the American Petroleum Institute industrial group showed on Wednesday that oil inventories rose by 1.84 million barrels in the week ending December 22, below expectations.

Meanwhile, the growing prospect of interest rate cuts in Europe and the United States in 2024 is positive from the perspective of oil demand.

“It is likely that the market will try the upside again, perhaps at the beginning of the new year, also due to expectations of a recovery in fuel demand thanks to monetary easing in the United States and increased demand for kerosene during the winter in the northern hemisphere,” said Hiroyuki Kikukawa, president of NS Trading, a unit of Nissan Securities.

The price of the WTI (CCOM:OILCRUDE) futures contract traded on Nymex for delivery in February fell 1.20%, quoted at $ 73.19 per barrel. Meanwhile, the price of the Brent (CCOM:OILBRENT) contract traded on the ICE platform for delivery in February fell 1.14%, quoted at $ 78.74 per barrel.”