Oil prices ease on prospect of persistently high US interest rates

By Thomson Reuters Apr 18, 2024 | 8:04 PM

By Laila Kearney

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Oil prices slipped in early trade on Friday as U.S. jobs data pointed to higher interest rates for longer and easing tensions in the Middle East dampened supply concerns. The market largely shrugged off sanctions on Venezuela and Iran.

Brent futures fell 23 cents, or 0.3%, to $86.88 a barrel by 0037 GMT. U.S. crude fell 25 cents to $82.48 per barrel, also down 0.3%.

The number of Americans filing new jobless claims was unchanged at a low level last week, pointing to continued labor market strength. That reinforced views the Federal Reserve would keep rates higher for longer, which could dampen oil demand.

The European Central Bank, meanwhile indicated that an interest rate cut is coming in June, while in China, the world’s biggest oil importer, central bank officials said the bank could take further steps to support the economy as real credit demand weakens.

In global crude oil supply, Venezuela lost a key U.S. license allowing the OPEC member to export oil to markets globally. The U.S. also announced sanctions on Iran, another OPEC member, targeting after the country’s drone strike on Israel last weekend.

The latter sanctions, however, excluded Iran’s oil industry.

Helping to soften crude price decline, Goldman Sachs on Thursday revised its Brent crude oil price forecasts, projecting $86 for the second half of 2024, up from $85 previously and $82 for 2025, up from $80.

“Goldman Sachs expects prices to consolidate in coming months as demand-driven boost from Q3 inventory declines offsets moderation in the risk premium,” Goldman analysts said in a note.

(Reporting by Laila Kearney in New York; Editing by Sonali Paul)