By Gina Lee
Investing.com – Oil was down on Friday morning in Asia, but was l as concerns about weaker economic growth eclipse expectations of a demand rebound in China.
fell 0.72% to $111.23 by 12:17 AM ET (4:17 AM GMT). fell 0.99% to $108.80 on its last day as the front-month, with futures for July down about 0.6% to $109.20. WTI futures are now set to rise for a fourth consecutive for the first time since mid-February 2022.
The black liquid has seen limited gains during the past week, with the Brent and U.S. benchmarks mostly trading in a range thanks to uncertainty in demand.
Investors, worried about rising inflation and tighter monetary policies from central banks, have been reducing exposure to riskier assets. An example is open interest in WTI futures, which fell to 1.722 million contracts on May 18, 2022, the lowest level since July 2016.
“If U.S. growth data continues to sour, oil prices could get caught up in the negative stock market feedback loop,” SPI Asset Management managing director Stephen Innes said in a note.
In Asia-Pacific, fuel demand in China, the world’s top crude importer, could rebound. Shanghai eased some COVID-19 lockdowns and residents were free to shop for groceries for the first time in nearly two months.
Americans were also getting back behind the wheel, according to a report from the Federal Highway Administration on vehicle miles, even as gasoline and diesel prices hit record highs again on Thursday, according to Automobile club AAA. The U.S. House of Representatives on its part passed a bill allowing the president to issue an energy emergency declaration, making it unlawful for companies to excessively increase gasoline and home fuel prices.
Across the Atlantic, an imminent European Union ban on Russian oil gave oil a boost. Although the bloc proposed a new package of sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24 earlier in the month, they have yet to be adopted.
Meanwhile, Russian supply is making it tougher for Iran to sell its crude, with exports to China falling sharply since the war in Ukraine began as China looks to heavily discounted Russian barrels. Almost 40 million barrels of Iranian oil are currently on tankers at sea in Asia without buyers.