Oil falls after US Fed governor says no rush to cut interest rates

By Thomson Reuters Feb 22, 2024 | 8:22 PM

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Oil prices fell on Friday after a U.S. Fed official said interest rate cuts should be delayed at least two more months.

Brent crude futures were down 25 cents, or 0.3%, at $83.42 a barrel at 0212 GMT, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures were 25 cents, or 0.3%, lower at $78.36.

U.S. Federal Reserve policymakers should delay interest rate cuts by at least another couple of months to see if a recent uptick in inflation signals stalling progress toward price stability or is just a bump in the road, Fed Governor Christopher Waller said on Thursday.

Higher interest rates for longer slow economic growth, which curbs oil demand.

The U.S. central bank has held its policy rate steady in the 5.25%-5.5% range since last July, and minutes of its policy meeting last month show most central bankers were worried about moving too quickly to ease policy.

Waller also pushed back on the idea that the Fed risks sending the economy into recession if it waits too long to cut rates, saying the Fed can afford to “wait a little longer”.

Oil benchmarks pared some of their Thursday gains after Waller’s comments. [O/R]

Oil futures had settled higher on Thursday as hostilities continued in the Red Sea, with Iran-aligned Houthis stepping up attacks near Yemen to show support for Palestinians in the Gaza war.

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s war cabinet has approved sending negotiators to Gaza for truce talks taking place in Paris as pressure mounts in the Middle East, according to a source briefed on the matter and Israeli media.

(Reporting by Sudarshan Varadhan; Editing by Tom Hogue)