Oil prices down on weaker growth in China, US rate hike jitters
TOKYO – Oil prices fell in early trade on Thursday, extending losses to a fourth consecutive session on fears of slowing growth in China and possible further U.S. interest rate hikes weakening fuel demand in the world’s two biggest economies.
Brent crude futures fell 37 cents, or 0.44 percent, to $83.08 a barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude (WTI) was down 39 cents, or 0.49 percent, to $78.99 a barrel at 0038 GMT.
Missed payments on investment products by a leading Chinese trust firm and a fall in home prices have added to worries that China’s deepening property sector crisis is stifling what little momentum the economy has left.
China’s central bank unexpectedly cut key policy rates for the second time in three months this week but analysts worry it may not be enough to arrest the economy’s downward spiral.
“A risk off tone across markets weighed on sentiment across commodities, compounded by further economic weakness in China,” ANZ Research said in a note.
Minutes of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s July meeting released on Wednesday are also weighing on oil prices, as they showed that most of the central bank’s officials continued to prioritize the battle against inflation.
The minutes “showed most officials noted significant upside to inflation means we may see more tightening … Nevertheless, signs of tightness in the physical market continue,” ANZ Research said.