Oil: The 'R'-Word Rules as U.S. Crude Below $80 for Worst Week in 7

By Barani Krishnan 

Investing.com - It's back, the buzzword most hated by oil longs.

Recession, or the 'R'-word as it has come to be known, was omnipotent across commodity markets on Friday, sending gold to 2½-year lows while setting up 'black gold', or oil, for its worst weekly loss in seven as U.S. crude broke below $80 per barrel the first time since January.

Global equities at a two-year low, the dollar at 20-year highs, weak European purchasing managers indexes, and growth concerns from this week's rate hikes by the Federal Reserve to the Bank of England made it a perfect storm for oil bulls.

"The market is clearly thinking economic slowdown," said Scott Shelton, energy futures broker at ICAP in Durham, North Carolina.

"Whether or not physical [oil] grades are strong or weak matters not currently," Shelton added.

Long-leaning analysts have warned that risk of war escalation in Ukraine by Russia and China's opening up from COVID lockdowns could mean plenty of upside for oil in the coming weeks.

New York-traded West Texas Intermediate, which serves as the U.S. crude benchmark, settled at $78.74 per barrel, down $4.75, or 5.7%, on the day. The so-called WTI earlier hit a session low of $78.14.

For the week, the U.S. crude benchmark was down 7.5% for its worst week since the end of July.

“WTI is inching closer to the 100-Week SMA of $77.50 with today's low of $78.14,” Sunil Kumar Dixit, chief technical strategist at SKCharting.com, said, referring to U.S. crude’s  Simple Moving Average. “Some additional drop beyond the support is not ruled out.”

Brent, the London-traded global benchmark for oil, settled at $86.15, down $4.31, or 4.8% on the day, after an intraday drop to $85.51. 

For the week, Brent was down 5.7% for its biggest weekly decline since the end of August.

"Central banks now appear to accept that a recession is the price to pay for getting a grip on inflation, which could weigh on demand next year," said Craig Erlam, analyst at online trading platform OANDA.

"At the same time, the market still remains tight and OPEC+ is perfectly willing to restrict supply further even as it fails to deliver on quotas it has set itself so far. What's more, a nuclear deal between the US and Iran looks no closer and Russia's mobilization could pose a risk to its supply."

Considering all these, "very little is probably priced in at this point," Erlam added.

The European Union ratcheted up, on Thursday, its plans to put a cap on the price of Russian oil -- a measure aimed at weakening Moscow's ability to fund the war in Ukraine.

Nigeria's Oil Minister Timipre Marlin Sylva, speaking on behalf of producer alliance OPEC+, meanwhile, threatened a cut in global crude output if prices continued to fall.

Neither announcement made much of an impact on the market.

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