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Oil Prices Continue Downtrend Amid Inflation Uncertainty

Oil Prices Continue Downtrend Amid Inflation Uncertainty

May 22, 2024

Oil Prices Continue Downtrend Amid Inflation Uncertainty

The U.S. crude oil benchmark, West Texas Intermediate (WTI), has seen a decline in its value, falling below the $80 threshold earlier this week. As of 1:45 p.m. ET on Wednesday, WTI was trading at $77.94 per barrel, down by 0.92%, while Brent crude also experienced a decrease, trading down by 0.81% at $82.21 per barrel.

This downturn in oil prices comes on the heels of the Federal Reserve's indications that it will delay interest rate cuts. The hesitation to implement rate cuts stems from the persistent inflation in the economy and the Fed's insistence that rate cuts will not come until inflation moves towards 2%.

"The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) minutes will be scrutinized for the Fed's assessment of bumpy Q1 inflation and clues on the timing and extent of potential interest rate cuts in 2024," stated ANZ analysts in a report referenced by Reuters on Wednesday.

Last week's economic data has offered mixed signals, making it difficult for traders in the crude oil market to predict future trends. April's producer price index (PPI) rose by 0.5%, signaling ongoing inflationary pressures, while the consumer price index (CPI) increased by a modest 0.3%, in line with expectations.

Oil prices are currently reacting to these mixed signals about inflation, amidst analysts' perceptions that there is a weakening demand for oil. Reuters reported that despite an increase in refinery capacity, which would typically lead to higher crude purchases, refiners are buying less crude than anticipated.

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