Energy

Oil prices head for weekly fall after volatile week

Oil pumping jacks, also known as "nodding donkeys", operate in an oilfield near Almetyevsk, Tatarstan, Russia, on Wednesday, March 11, 2020.
Andrey Rudakov | Bloomberg via Getty Images

Oil prices fell on Friday, wiping out gains from the previous session, on worries that the U.S. Federal Reserve will accelerate plans to boost interest rates to tame inflation.

Brent crude futures fell 70 cents, or 0.8%, to settle at $82.17 a barrel. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude fell 80 cents, or 1%, to settle at $80.79 a barrel.

Both benchmarks fell for a third consecutive week, hit by a strengthening dollar and speculation that President Joe Biden's administration might release oil from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve to cool prices. On a weekly basis, Brent fell down 0.7%, while WTI fell 0.6% decline.

"This week has been a good reminder for oil markets that prices are not only affected by the supply-demand trajectory, but also from monetary policy forecasts and by forms of government intervention," said Louise Dickson, senior oil markets analyst at Rystad Energy.

"Higher interest rates would provide even further support to the dollar and even more downward pressure on oil prices".

This week, U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said President Joe Biden could act as soon as this week to address soaring gasoline prices.

"We believe that whatever the announcement is will only have a short-term impact on price, but because of the uncertainty the market is pulling back a little bit," said Phil Flynn, senior analyst at Price Futures Group.

Though there are positive signs on the demand side, with air travel picking up rapidly, tighter monetary and fiscal policy and the looming northern hemisphere winter will act as a dampener.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) on Thursday cut its world oil demand forecast for the fourth quarter by 330,000 barrels per day (bpd) from last month's forecast as high energy prices hampered economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

OPEC, Russia and allies, together known as OPEC+, agreed last week to stick to plans to add 400,000 bpd to the market each month.

"The oil market is sleepwalking into a supply surplus," said Stephen Brennock of oil broker PVM. "OPEC and its allies will at the very least need to put a pause on the easing of their supply curbs in the new year. Inaction will result in global oil stocks swelling once again."