Oil rebounds on fading risk of US debt default

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New York, May 19, 2023 – Oil prices rebounded on Friday from losses of more than 1% the previous day as investors turned cautiously optimistic over the fading risk of a U.S. debt default.

Brent futures rose 73 cents or 1.0% to $76.59 a barrel by 0650 GMT, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude climbed 62 cents or 0.9% to $72.48.

“I think markets have been pricing out the risks of a U.S. debt default, which translates to a more risk-on environment and some dip-buying in Brent crude from previous oversold conditions,” said Yeap Jun Rong, a market strategist at IG.

Earlier this week, U.S. President Joe Biden and Speaker of the House of Representatives Kevin McCarthy reiterated their aim to raise the $31.4 trillion federal debt ceiling, agreeing to talk as soon as Sunday.

“Once we get over the U.S. debt ceiling issue, fundamentals may eventually matter more to determine if any upward move can be sustained,” said Yeap.

Sentiment remains mixed as investors juggle optimism over avoidance of a U.S. debt default with inflation data that could portend more interest rate hikes from global central banks.

U.S. inflation does not seem to be cooling fast enough to allow the Federal Reserve to pause its interest-rate hike campaign, according to two fed policymakers. 

The potential for additional rate hikes increases concerns about demand weakness in the United States, said analysts from National Australia Bank.

The analysts said, however, there is upside to prices as they expect China’s demand to continue improving throughout 2023, which should offset the slowdown in OECD demand.

China’s oil refinery throughput in April rose 18.9% from a year earlier to the second-highest level on record, data showed earlier this week.

Chinese refiners maintains high runs to meet recovering domestic fuel demand and build stockpiles ahead of the summer travel season. (Reuters)

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