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Brent Oil Slides Below $80 Amid Concerns of Weakening Demand

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Oil Prices Decline on Weakening Demand Concerns

Oil prices continued to fall as traders reacted to signs of weakening demand and awaited further guidance from Federal Reserve officials regarding interest rates.

Shift in Focus to Demand

With the easing of the risk premium from the Israel-Hamas conflict, market attention has turned to demand, which has shown signs of softening. China, the world's largest crude importer, is experiencing shrinking refining margins, increasing oil and fuel stockpiles, and a slow recovery in air travel. Additionally, business and consumer confidence remains low despite government efforts to stimulate growth.

US Gasoline Demand and Supply Data

In the US, government data suggests that American gasoline demand will reach a 20-year low per capita next year due to higher pump prices and inflation, which may reduce discretionary driving. On the supply side, Russian shipments are at a four-month high, and US crude stockpiles have increased by almost 12 million barrels.
Central Bank Policies and Interest Rates
Traders are closely monitoring statements from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell and other central bankers for signals on the future path of interest rates. The insistence on keeping rates high by central banks could further exacerbate concerns about weak demand. Despite these challenges, OPEC+ remains positive about the demand outlook as it prepares for its next ministerial meeting. The decision to extend voluntary supply cuts into 2024 may be discussed by Saudi Arabia and Russia at the meeting in late November.

Implications of Declining Oil Prices on New Businesses

The recent decline in oil prices, driven by weakening demand and uncertainty around interest rates, could have significant implications for new businesses, particularly those in the energy sector.

Adapting to Changing Demand

New businesses must be agile and adaptable in the face of changing market conditions. The softening demand for oil, particularly in China, could necessitate a shift in strategy for businesses in the oil industry. They may need to explore alternative markets or diversify their offerings to stay competitive.

Impact of US Gasoline Demand and Supply

The projected decrease in American gasoline demand and increase in supply could further impact oil prices. New businesses in the oil and gas sector may need to prepare for a potential oversupply situation and consider strategies to manage this, such as exploring storage solutions or reducing production.
Effect of Central Bank Policies
The potential for high interest rates could exacerbate concerns about weak demand. This could impact new businesses across various sectors, not just energy, as it could lead to reduced consumer spending and investment. Businesses may need to factor this into their financial planning and risk management strategies. Despite these challenges, the positive outlook from OPEC+ provides some hope for the industry. New businesses should closely monitor these developments and be prepared to adapt their strategies as necessary.
Story First Published at: https://financialpost.com/pmn/business-pmn/brent-oil-dips-below-80-as-focus-shifts-to-weakening-demand
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