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TOKYO: Oil prices rebounded more than 1% on Wednesday, recovering from the previous day, as a stronger OPEC outlook on Chinese demand helped offset bearish global investor sentiment in the wake of recent US bank failures.
Brent crude futures climbed 93 cents, or 1.2%, to $78.38 a barrel by 0324 GMT.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures gained 96 cents, or 1.4%, to $72.29 a barrel. On Tuesday, the benchmarks fell more than 4% to a three-month low. “The oil market has bounced back on its own after the recent sharp losses,” said Toshitaka Tazawa, an analyst at Fujitomi Securities Co Ltd, adding that some investors took advantage of the slide to look for bargains.
“OPEC’s upgrade in Chinese oil demand forecasts also provided support, although investors remain concerned about a cascading financial crisis after the recent collapse of US banks,” he said, noting whether WTI can stay above $70 a barrel is closely watched.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) on Tuesday raised its forecast for further Chinese oil demand growth in 2023 due to the easing of the country’s COVID-19 curbs, although it left total global demand steady, citing potential downside risks for growth the world .
Chinese refineries processed 3.3% more crude in the first two months of 2023 compared to the same period a year earlier, data showed on Wednesday, driven by fuel export policy and independent refiners processing more in response to improving margins for transportation fuels after Beijing lifted COVID restrictions.
China’s demand recovery is bullish for oil prices, said Stefano Grasso, senior portfolio manager at 8VantEdge in Singapore.
Oil prices continue to fall due to the SMB shutdown
“The consensus is that the oil supply-demand balance will tighten in the second half, driven by China’s rebound, unless a severe global recession hits,” he added.
The failure of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank sparked concerns about risks to other banks as a result of a sharp rise in US Federal Reserve interest rates over the past year.
It also prompted speculation about whether the central bank could slow the pace of its monetary tightening.
On Tuesday, US inflation data came in line with expectations, strengthening bets on a smaller interest rate hike by the Fed at its meeting next week.
Meanwhile, US crude oil inventories rose by about 1.2 million barrels in the week ended March 10, according to a Reuters poll, while fuel stockpiles fell, according to market sources citing figures from the American Petroleum Institute. on Tuesday.
On the supply side, Saudi Arabia’s energy minister, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, told Energy Intelligence in an interview on Tuesday that the OPEC+ alliance – OPEC and allied oil producers including Russia – will stick to production cuts agreed in October until the end of the year.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) will publish its monthly report later on Wednesday and the US Energy Information Administration will publish weekly inventory data at 10:30 am EDT.