Oil slips for third session on likely ‘higher for longer’ US rates

By Thomson Reuters May 21, 2024 | 7:59 PM

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Oil prices fell for a third straight session on Wednesday on expectations the Federal Reserve could keep U.S. interest rates higher for longer due to sustained inflation, potentially impacting fuel use in the world’s largest oil consumer.

Brent crude futures were down 43 cents, or 0.5%, to $82.45 a barrel. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude (WTI) futures slipped 50 cents, or 0.6%, to $78.16. Oil prices settled about 1% lower on Tuesday.

Fed policymakers said on Tuesday the U.S. central bank should wait several more months to ensure that inflation really is back on track to its 2% target before cutting interest rates.

Higher borrowing costs can slow economic growth and pressure oil demand.

U.S. crude oil and gasoline inventories rose last week, while distillates fell, according to market sources citing American Petroleum Institute (API) figures on Tuesday.

Ahead of this weekend’s Memorial Day holiday, which kicks off the U.S. peak summer driving season, retail gasoline prices fell for the fourth consecutive week. U.S. prices of diesel, a key refined product for both the industrial sector and transport, have also slipped.

Investors are awaiting minutes from the Fed’s last policy meeting and weekly U.S. oil inventory data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) due later on Wednesday.

The euro zone has all but promised a rate cut on June 6 amid more positive economic outlook. European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde said in an interview aired on Tuesday that she was “really confident” euro zone inflation was under control.

(Reporting by Sudarshan Varadhan; Editing by Jamie Freed)