Oil Pares Declines as EU Avoids Sanctions on Russian Crude
Oil erased early losses after the European Union eschewed sanctions on Russian oil, and investors weighed the outlook for the dollar.
The dollar held gains after jumping on Tuesday as investors digested the prospect of a swift reduction in the Federal Reserve’s debt holdings, part of stepped up monetary tightening to combat soaring inflation. A stronger currency typically makes commodities priced in the currency less attractive.
Oil surged by a third in the first quarter as the Russian invasion and backlash from the EU and U.S. roiled markets. While the U.K. and Washington have moved to bar Russian crude, it’s harder for the EU to follow suit given the region’s far higher level of dependence. Washington and allies in the International Energy Agency have also tapped strategic petroleum reserves to try to calm prices.
Oil markets remain in backwardation, a bullish pattern, although differentials have narrowed in recent days amid the sanctions moves and announcements for major reserve releases. Brent’s prompt spread — the gap between its two nearest contracts — was $1.48 a barrel, down from more than $4 a month ago.
Investors are tracking a coronavirus outbreak in top oil importer China that’s hurting energy demand as cities including Shanghai have been placed under lockdown. The country reported more than 20,000 cases for Tuesday.
A weekly industry snapshot pointed to a modest gain in U.S. inventories. Figures from the American Petroleum Institute on Tuesday showed a 1.1 million barrel increase nationwide, as well as a rise at the key hub in Cushing, Oklahoma, according to people familiar with the data.
In the U.S. later Wednesday, the chief executives of Chevron Corp., Devon Energy Corp., ExxonMobil Corp., and Pioneer Natural Resources Co., and local heads of BP Plc and Shell Plc are set to testify on oil and gas prices before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Average retail gasoline prices hit a record last month, according to data from the American Automobile Association.