Oil prices experienced a decline on Tuesday, driven by concerns that major central banks' decisions to maintain higher interest rates could hinder fuel demand, despite expectations of a tight supply in the market.
Brent crude futures were observed to be down 38 cents, settling at $92.91 per barrel at 0400 GMT. Simultaneously, US West Texas Intermediate crude futures registered a 34-cent decrease, trading at $89.34.
Market analyst Tina Teng from CMC Markets in Auckland highlighted that "fears of an economic recession may again dominate the oil market’s movement due to surging US bond yields following the Fed’s hawkish stance last week".
The US Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank, two influential players in the world's economic policy landscape, have recently reiterated their commitment to combat inflation, signaling a likelihood of prolonged tight monetary policies. Higher interest rates, a consequence of such policies, tend to impede economic growth, ultimately impacting oil demand.
In a separate development on Monday, Moody's, a renowned rating agency, cautioned that a US government shutdown would negatively affect the country's credit rating. This warning comes approximately one month after Fitch downgraded the US credit rating by one notch, primarily due to concerns related to the debt ceiling crisis.
Furthermore, the ongoing challenges in China's property sector have added to market uncertainty. China Evergrande's announcement on Monday evening regarding a missed bond coupon payment has renewed investor pessimism about the sector.
Despite the tight supply dynamics in the oil market, as both Russia and Saudi Arabia have extended their production cuts until the end of the year, Moscow decided to ease its temporary ban on gasoline and diesel exports on Monday. This measure was taken to stabilize the domestic market.
The upcoming Golden Week holiday in China, starting from Sunday, may provide support to oil prices by boosting travel and subsequently increasing oil product demand in the world's second-largest oil consumer.
Oil prices have seen a roughly 30% increase since the middle of the year, primarily driven by tighter supply conditions. This surge has, in turn, contributed to a 0.5 percentage point reduction in global GDP growth for the second half of this year, as reported by JP Morgan.
Nevertheless, JP Morgan suggests that this impact is not substantial enough to pose a significant threat to economic expansion. They anticipate oil prices to reach $94 per barrel through the fourth quarter of 2023, but this is expected to be the peak before OPEC potentially eases its supply constraints, as noted by Baden Moore, head of carbon and commodity strategy at National Australia Bank.