This week, both oil benchmarks touched their lowest levels in almost a year. Brent was on course for its largest weekly drop since December, of more than 10%, while WTI was on track for its steepest weekly decline since April, of more than 11%.
Volatility due to the troubled banks
The chaos in the US banking sector has kept oil prices under pressure. For example, the First Republic Bank stock fell over 20% in premarket trading on Friday, despite receiving $30 billion from a consortium of major US banks. Meanwhile, SVB Financial Group, the parent company of Silicon Valley Bank, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, a week after federal regulators were forced to take emergency measures to save the bank.
Moreover, in its most recent monthly oil market assessment, the International Energy Agency upped its estimate of Russian supply by 300 million barrels per day, noting that Russian exports had performed better than anticipated.
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At a meeting on Thursday, Saudi Arabia and Russia reaffirmed their commitment to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC+) October 2018 deal to reduce production levels by two million barrels per day through the end of 2023.
Chinese demand to save the day
Furthermore, both the OPEC and the International Energy Agency (IEA) have recently reaffirmed their hopes that a rebound in China to record highs this year. Goldman Sachs also raised its forecast for Chinese economic growth in 2023 as the nation reopens following three years of COVID restrictions.
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On the other hand, US crude stocks increased more than anticipated for the week ending March 10, heightening fears about a decline in demand in the world’s top oil consumer. 11 of the previous 12 weeks have seen an increase in crude stocks, indicating a probable supply surplus in the nation.
“The current surplus environment has also meant that US inventories have reached an 18-month high and the market is expected to remain in surplus over 1H23,” analysts at ING said in a note.
Selling pressure to resume?
If oil falls below the lower trend line of the flag formation, which is now above $66, the recent short-term consolidation phase may soon expire. In such a case, crude oil prices may rapidly fall to $65.
Alternately, if mood improves, oil might surge to the top line of the consolidation flag formation, which is now at $70. There aren’t many hopes of re-gaining the $80 area at this moment. The price should remain below the 200 day average of $75.36.
WTI 2H chart, source: tradingview.com, author’s analysis
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