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Oil prices dip as markets seek more clarity on Fed, SPR restocking

Oil prices dip as markets seek more clarity on Fed, SPR restocking
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By Ambar Warrick 

Investing.com– Oil prices retreated from recent gains on Tuesday in anticipation of a speech by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, while markets also sought more clarity on the restocking of the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve this year. 

Powell is expected to shed more light on the path of U.S. monetary policy and economic growth when he speaks at a bank symposium in Sweden later today. Traders have been pricing in an increased possibility of smaller rate hikes by the Fed in the coming months, which is largely expected to benefit crude prices.

But concerns over slowing economic growth in the U.S. has tempered optimism towards crude markets. Focus this week is also on key U.S. consumer price index inflation data, which is largely expected to factor into monetary policy. 

Brent oil futures fell 0.7% to $79.22 a barrel, while West Texas Intermediate crude futures dropped 0.4% to $74.30 a barrel by 21:34 ET (02:34 GMT). 

Markets were also watching for signals on when the U.S. plans to begin restocking its massive Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR), after the Department of Energy rejected initial bids to resupply the stockpile.

While the government had initially signaled it would begin replenishing the SPR from the first quarter of 2023, it rejected the first batch of bids from oil companies on the grounds that crude prices were still too high. 

The replenishment of the SPR, which is currently at a near 40-year low, is expected to act as a buy signal for crude markets. 

Crude markets rose over the past two sessions amid increased optimism over China, which recently relaxed nearly all of its anti-COVID measures and reopened international borders after three years. Markets bet that an eventual economic recovery in the country will also spur a large bounceback in crude demand.

But in the near-term, the country faces its worst yet COVID-19 outbreak, which has cooled some optimism towards over an immediate economic recovery. Fears of slowing economic growth across the globe, as the effects of sharp monetary policy tightening from 2022 are felt, have also kept sentiment towards crude markets muted in recent weeks.

Oil prices marked a dismal start to the new year after the International Monetary Fund warned of a recession in several major economies in 2023. 

 

Source: Investing.com

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