Oil futures: Late selloff pushes crude into weekly negative territory

27 Jan 2023

Quantum Commodity Intelligence - Crude oil futures Friday were trading lower after a late selloff pushed prices into negative territory for both the day and the week, wiping out earlier gains which came after the US posted stronger GDP figures and fears over escalating military conflict in eastern Europe.

March ICE Brent futures were trading at $86.42/b (1935 GMT), compared to the day's high of $88.95/b and Thursday's settle of $87.47/b, down around 1.5% on the week. 

At the same time, Mar23 NYMEX WTI was trading $79.48/b, versus Thursday's settle of $81.01/b and over 2% lower on the week.  

Prices had been positive throughout the session after figures showed the US economy finished 2022 on a firm note, although fears of the economy dipping into recession later this year still linger.

GDP in the fourth quarter increased at an annualized rate of 2.9%, the Commerce Department reported Thursday, beating forecasts in the key metric.

"Real GDP rose 2.9% annualized in the fourth quarter, three-tenths above consensus. However, the details were much softer, as inventories contributed over half of the increase and will l weigh like an anvil on Q1 growth," cautioned Stephen Innes, managing partner SPI Asset Management. 

Geopolitical tensions were on the rise after the US and Europe promised to equip Ukraine with more advanced tanks, prompting Russia to launch what the head of Ukraine's armed forces called "massive" missile strikes on Thursday.

A senior EU official said Friday that Russia had taken its war against Ukraine to "a different stage" by making indiscriminate attacks on civilians and non-military targets while criticising Moscow for triggering recent moves by Germany and the United States to send advanced tanks to Ukraine.

Stefano Sannino, Secretary General of the European Union's European External Action Service, said President Vladimir Putin had "moved from a concept of special operation to a concept now of a war against NATO and the West," reported the AP news agency.

Talk has also turned to the possible supply of fighter jets, which analysts say would likely provoke a further response from Moscow.

Ukraine is lobbying for fighter jets, including US F-16s, while an advisor to Ukraine's defence ministry told CNBC that Ukraine is determined to get jets from its allies.

The US has also announced fresh sanctions targeting groups that support the Russian war effort, including the paramilitary Wagner Group.

Japan has also imposed additional sanctions, such as a ban on exports of tear gas and robots that could be used to strengthen Russian forces, while freezing assets held by 36 Russian officials and pro-Kremlin individuals.

Meanwhile, growing optimism on China's recovery continued to underpin prices as latest data revealed the number of daily Covid deaths has dropped by almost 80% since the start of the month.