Oil prices experienced a dip in early Asian trading on Wednesday, influenced by prevailing bearish fundamentals, even as tensions escalated in the Middle East.
The March Brent crude futures, set to expire today, witnessed a decline of 37 cents, reaching $82.50 a barrel, while the more actively-traded April contract dropped 24 cents to $82.26 a barrel.
Market analysts, including Tony Sycamore from IG, expressed caution in turning outright bullish on crude oil due to the technical picture that remains bearish. Recent events, such as a deadly drone attack on U.S. troops near the Jordan-Syria border, have not yet translated into a more optimistic market sentiment.
Potential impact of US response
ANZ analysts highlighted the potential for a significant market reaction if there is a strong military response from the U.S. following the recent drone attack. President Biden stated that he has decided on a response, aiming to avoid a wider war in the Middle East. The uncertainty surrounding the situation contributes to the cautious oil market.
Amidst the escalating tensions, the Iran-aligned Iraqi armed group, Kataib Hezbollah, announced the suspension of all its military operations against U.S. troops in the region. The move adds complexity to the geopolitical landscape, influencing oil market dynamics.
Hamas revealed on Tuesday that it received and is studying a ceasefire proposal in the Israel-Palestinian conflict. This development, considered a serious peace initiative, follows previous unsuccessful attempts at a ceasefire. The market closely watches for potential impacts on oil trading.
Concerns persist over Houthi attacks
Despite ceasefire talks in Gaza, market concerns persist over potential attacks by Iran-backed Houthis on ships in the Red Sea. These attacks have disrupted global shipping and oil trading, contributing to the cautious sentiment in the oil market.
Bearish factors influencing the oil market include the deepening crisis in China’s real estate sector, marked by the liquidation of property company China Evergrande Group. Concerns about demand from the world’s largest crude importer contribute to the overall market uncertainty.