Oil prices fell in a volatile market on Tuesday as the U.S. dollar stayed strong and economic uncertainty offset the bullish impact of a price cap placed on Russian oil and the prospects of a demand boost in China.
Brent crude futures LCOc1 fell $1.21, or $1.46%, to $81.47 a barrel by 1254 GMT. West Texas Intermediate crude (WTI) CLc1 fell $1.18, or $1.53%, to $75.75. Brent had risen by over $1 in Asian trading.
Crude futures recorded their biggest daily drop in two weeks after U.S. services industry data indicated a strong U.S. economy and drove expectations of higher interest rates than recently forecast.
The U.S. dollar index =USD edged lower on Tuesday but was still buoyed by bets of higher interest rates, following the biggest rally in two weeks on Monday.
A stronger greenback makes dollar-denominated oil more expensive for buyers holding other currencies, reducing demand for the commodity.
“Inflationary headwinds could still cause global economic turbulence in coming months,” said Tamas Varga of oil broker PVM, but added that “China’s gradual COVID opening is a tentatively positive development”.
In China, more cities are easing COVID-19-related curbs, prompting expectations of increased demand in the world’s top oil importer.
The country is set to announce a further relaxation of some of the world’s toughest COVID curbs as early as Wednesday, sources said.
The market was weighing the production impact of a price cap of $60/bbl on Russian crude imposed by the Group of Seven (G7), the European Union and Australia, contributing to market volatility.
The price cap adds to the disruption caused by the EU’s embargo on imports of Russian crude by sea and similar pledges by the United States, Canada, Japan and Britain.
The embargo is likely to tighten market supply as the EU has to source crude from elsewhere, Commerzbank analyst Carsten Fritsch said in a note.
Russia has declared its intention not to sell oil to anyone who signs up to the price cap.
The threat of losing insurance will limit Russia’s access to the tanker market and could reduce crude exports by 500,000 bpd from February levels, said analysts from Rystad Energy in a note.
Russia’s January-November oil and gas condensate rose 2.2% from a year earlier to 488 million tonnes, according to Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak, who expects a slight output decline following the latest sanctions.