Oil prices ease as demand concerns take hold

Oil prices retreated slightly this week amid persistent concerns over a looming demand slowdown, which largely offset fears of potential supply disruptions from new attacks in the Red Sea.

The Yemen-based, Iran-aligned Houthi group claimed responsibility for an attack on an oil tanker in the Red Sea, presenting little de-escalation in geopolitical instability in the Middle East.

A growing conflict in the Middle East, especially in the wake of the Israel-Hamas war, has been a key point of support for oil prices, especially as fighting in the Red Sea pointed to delayed oil deliveries to several parts of Asia and Europe.

However, the market has started the new week on the back foot on concerns over sluggish demand, especially in the face of higher for longer U.S. interest rates and worsening economic conditions across the globe.

Stronger-than-expected U.S. consumer and producer inflation data released last week ramped up concerns that the Federal Reserve will have little impetus to cut interest rates early in 2024.

Higher rates bode poorly for crude demand, given that they stifle economic activity.

The International Energy Agency had last week warned of a demand slowdown in 2024, with the warning coming just as data showed the U.K .and Japan entering a recession.

As we head into the final week of February fuel cards users can expect a welcome reduction in the region of 2ppl


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