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Oil set to end turbulent 2022 with second annual gain

Oil prices rose on Friday and were on track for a second straight annual gain in a volatile year marked by tight supplies because of the Ukraine war and weakening demand from the world’s top crude importer, China.

Crude surged in March with global benchmark Brent reaching $139.13 a barrel, the highest since 2008, after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sparked supply concerns. Prices cooled rapidly in 2022’s second half on worries about global recession.

“This has been an extraordinary year for commodity markets, with supply risks leading to increased volatility and elevated prices,” said ING analyst Ewa Manthey.

“Next year is set to be another year of uncertainty, with plenty of volatility.”

On Friday, Brent crude was down 35 cents, or 0.4%, at $83.11 a barrel by 1240 GMT. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude rose 10 cents, or 0.1%, to $78.50.

For the year, Brent looked set to gain 6.9%, after jumping 50% in 2021. U.S. crude is on track to rise 4.4% in 2022, following last year’s gain of 55%. Both benchmarks fell in 2020 as the pandemic hit demand.

“Investors are going into 2023 with a cautious mindset, prepared for more rate hikes, and expecting recessions around the globe,” said Craig Erlam, analyst at brokerage OANDA.

“Volatility is likely going nowhere fast as we navigate another highly uncertain year.”

While an increase in year-end holiday travel and Russia’s ban on crude and oil product sales are supportive, supply tightness will be offset by declining consumption due to a deteriorating economic environment next year, said CMC Markets analyst Leon Li.

“The global unemployment rate is expected to rise rapidly in 2023, restraining energy demand. So I think oil prices may fall to $60 next year,” he said.

Oil’s fall in the second half of 2022 came as central banks hiked interest rates to fight inflation, boosting the U.S. dollar. That made dollar-denominated commodities a more costly investment for holders of other currencies.

Also, China’s zero-COVID restrictions, which were only eased this month, squashed demand recovery hopes. The world’s No. 2 consumer in 2022 posted its first drop in oil demand for years.

While China is expected to recover in 2023, a recent surge in COVID-19 cases has dimmed hopes of an immediate demand boost.
Source: Reuters

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