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Oil prices settle lower in weekly loss on Gaza ceasefire talk, stronger dollar

Published 22/03/2024, 03:22
© Reuters.

Investing.com-- Oil prices settled lower Friday, ending the week with a loss as traders suggest signs of the  Israel-Hamas ceasefire pointed to fewer supply disruptions in the Middle East.

By 14:30 ET (18.30 GMT), the U.S. crude futures fell 0.5% to settle at $80.63 a barrel and the Brent contract fell 0.4% to $85.43 a barrel.

Gaza ceasefire, strong dollar weigh 

Talks in Qatar on an ceasefire to temporarily halt the violence in Gaza continued to be closely monitored after.U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken touted optimism that deal could be reached. 

The talks come after The United Nations Security Council on Friday turned down a U.S.-led resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza in exchange for the release of hostages following opposition from, Russia and China.

Optimism, albeit slender of a ceasefire deal weighed on crude prices.

Dollar strength also weighed on the crude prices as the greenback added to recent gains the euro and sterling amid expectations that the Bank of England and the European Central Bank could cut rates at a faster pace that the Fed can amid stronger U.S. growth 

Rig counts slip

The number of oil rigs operating in the U.S. fell by one to 509 for the week ended Mar. 22, and fell by 84 on an annual basis, though expectations are for pick up refinery activity to support demand in the summer months.

Tighter supply bets keeps oil elevated

However, the market stabilized near the four-month highs seen earlier in March on the prospect of tighter global supplies and improving demand. 

U.S. inventories unexpectedly shrank in the week to March 15, while major members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries signaled they were reducing their oil exports.

Russia launched the largest missile and drone attack on Ukrainian energy infrastructure of the war to date on Friday, hitting the country's largest dam and causing blackouts in several regions, Kyiv said.

Ukraine has in recent weeks masterminded a series of attacks on Russian energy infrastructure. 

Expectations of tighter supplies were also accompanied by an improving outlook for demand, especially in the face of a stronger U.S. economy, and a potential recovery in China. 

U.S. manufacturing activity grew more than expected in March, while services remained in expansion, purchasing managers index data showed on Thursday.

(Peter Nurse, Ambar Warrick contributed to this article.)

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