West Texas Intermediate (WTI) increased by 0.8%, settling just below $74 per barrel after fluctuating within a narrow range of $1. Prices briefly surged above the $74 threshold, prompting selling among trend-following algorithms, which consider this level a resistance point.
Despite these fluctuations, futures remained within the approximately $5 range where they have largely traded throughout the year. This was influenced by a report from the US Energy Information Administration that delivered mixed signals to the market. While US gasoline inventories unexpectedly dropped by 3.15 million barrels last week, signaling robust crude demand, national oil inventories saw their largest increase since November, which exerted pressure on prices.
In the meantime, the Iran-supported Houthi insurgent faction claimed responsibility for targeting two vessels in the southern Red Sea, continuing a series of attacks that have compelled a significant re-routing of international trade routes. The United States has pledged to conduct further strikes against Iranian forces and their affiliated groups in the area.
Crude oil prices have increased by approximately 3% this year, with the geopolitical tensions in the Middle East and escalating transportation expenses being offset to a large extent by a mixed economic outlook. Despite the lackluster movements in prices, there has been a surge in trading of oil derivatives, with the combined open interest across major futures contracts reaching its highest level since March 2022.
“It remains a market characterized by narrow ranges for crude,” stated Keshav Lohiya, the founder of consultancy firm Oilytics. “One of the primary factors allowing the oil markets to absorb these geopolitical risk premiums is the subdued supply growth from non-OPEC nations.”
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