Oil prices fall 1% on Israel-Hamas ceasefire talks, U.S. inflation concerns

*Oil prices

Beijing/New Delhi — Oil prices were down 1% on Monday, erasing gains from Friday as Israel-Hamas peace talks in Cairo eased fears of a wider conflict in the Middle East and U.S. inflation data further dimmed the prospects of interest rate cuts anytime soon.

Brent crude futures fell by as much as 98 cents, or 1.09%, to $88.52 a barrel by 0644 GMT. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures were down 83 cents, or 0.99%, at $83.02 a barrel.

Stepped-up efforts to mediate a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas moderated geopolitical tensions and contributed to the weak opening on Monday, IG market analyst Tony Sycamore said. A Hamas delegation will visit Cairo on Monday for peace talks, a Hamas official told Reuters.

Israel’s foreign minister said on Saturday a planned incursion into Rafah, where more than one million displaced Palestinians are sheltering, could be put off in the event of a deal that involves the release of Israeli hostages.

A White House spokesperson said Israel had agreed to listen to U.S. concerns about the humanitarian effects of the potential invasion.

Markets are also on watch for the U.S. Federal Reserve’s May 1 policy review.
“Also playing a part are some nerves ahead of this week’s Federal Open Market Committee meeting which is expected to come with a more hawkish tone,” Sycamore said.

U.S. inflation rose 2.7% in the 12 months through March, data on Friday showed, above the Fed’s target of 2%. Lower inflation would have increased the likelihood of interest rate cuts, which would stimulate economic growth and oil demand.

Mining giant BHP proposed a near $39 billion takeover of Anglo American on Thursday… offering a deal which would create the world’s biggest copper miner.

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“The sticky U.S. inflation sparks concerns for ‘higher-for-longer’ interest rates”, leading to a stronger U.S. dollar and putting pressure on commodity prices, independent market analyst Tina Teng said.

The dollar strengthened on the prospect of higher-for-longer interest rates. A stronger dollar makes oil more expensive for those holding other currencies.

Further weighing on the outlook for oil demand, China’s industrial profit growth slowed down in March, official data showed on Saturday, in the latest sign of frail domestic demand in the world’s second largest economy.

Cumulative profits of China’s industrial firms rose 4.3% to 1.5 trillion yuan ($207.0 billion) in the first quarter from a year earlier, compared to a 10.2% rise in the first two months.

But oil prices could swing higher again if U.S. inventory data and China’s PMI index show improvements this week, Teng said.

Brent had settled up 49 cents and WTI up 28 cents on Friday on concerns about disruptions to supply from events in the Middle East.

The market brushed aside potential supply disruptions stemming from Ukranian drone strikes on the Ilsky and Slavyansk oil refineries in Russia’s Krasnodar region over the weekend. The Slavyansk refinery had to suspend some operations after the attack, a plant executive said.

*Colleen Howe & Mohi Narayan; editing: Sonali Paul & Michael Perry – Reuters

This article was originally posted at sweetcrudereports.com

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