Oil on track for annual gain in volatile trading year

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Oil futures edged higher Friday in the last trading session of 2022 , on track to deliver an annual rise in a year that saw investors weigh supply fears triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine against a wobbly global demand outlook.

Price action
  • West Texas Intermediate crude for February delivery



    was up 3 cents, or less than 0.1%, at $78.43 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

  • March Brent crude

    the global benchmark, was flat at $83.46 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe.

  • Back on Nymex, January gasoline

    rose 0.3% to $2.378 a gallon, while January heating oil

    shed 0.7% to $3.29 a gallon.

  • February natural gas

    was down less than 0.1% at $4.557 per million British thermal units.

Market drivers

Based on trading in front-month contracts through Thursday’s close, WTI was up 4.2% in 2022, while Brent was up 5.8%. That would mark a second annual rise for both grades, though both were set to finish well off highs set in March following Russia’s late February invasion of Ukraine. WTI hit a nearly 14-year high above $130 a barrel in early March, while Brent traded just shy of $140.

WTI was set to end the year well below where it stood on Feb. 23, the eve of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, at $92.10 a barrel. Brent is down from its preinvasion close at $94.05 a barrel.

Crude has weakened over the second half of the year in part due to fears that aggressive tightening of monetary policy by the Federal Reserve and other major central banks would tip the global economy into steep slowdown. Optimism over China’s relaxation of strict COVID curbs, a factor seen as a weight on crude demand, has been offset by concerns over a surge in infections in the country.

Oil soared “in the wake of Russia’s first attacks on Ukraine. We had all kind of speculation that it would rally to the $180-200pb (per barrel) area. But Thank God that didn’t happen. We are preparing to end the year below $80pb instead, as the recession fears took a toll on bullish bets,” said Ipek Ozkardeskaya, analyst at Swissquote Bank, in a note.

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