Oil Prices Forecast: Influenced by Middle East Tensions, US Rate Cut Uncertainty

James Hyerczyk
Published: Feb 13, 2024, 07:36 GMT+00:00

Crude oil prices are inching higher due to persistent Middle East tensions and uncertainties around US interest rate cuts ahead of US CPI report.

Oil Prices Forecast

In this article:

Key Points

  • Middle East conflicts and US interest rate uncertainties are impacting crude oil prices.
  • Strong US economic data is influencing Federal Reserve’s interest rate cut expectations.
  • OPEC’s role and US crude inventory reports are crucial in determining oil price trends.

Ongoing Middle East Tensions and US Interest Rate Decisions

Crude oil prices are currently inching up on Tuesday, influenced by the persistent conflicts in the Middle East. The recent missile attacks by Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthis are heightening concerns over potential supply disruptions, leading to a sustained increase in prices.

Simultaneously, the market is weighing the impact of uncertainties surrounding the pace of potential U.S. interest rate cuts. This uncertainty, particularly in light of impending U.S. economic reports, is limiting the upward movement in oil prices.

At 07:24 GMT, Light Crude Oil Futures are trading $77.26, up $0.34 or +0.44%.

US Economic Data and Shifting Rate Cut Expectations

The market is currently reacting to the strong U.S. economic indicators, especially robust labor market data, which are decreasing the likelihood of early and substantial interest rate cuts by the Federal Reserve. The shift in market expectations is evident, with a significant decrease in the probability of a rate cut in March. Upcoming U.S. Consumer Price Index (CPI) and Producer Price Index (PPI) reports are being closely monitored for further insights.

OPEC’s Role and Anticipated Inventory Reports

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is playing a pivotal role in the current oil market. Iraq is actively maintaining its commitment to OPEC’s production cap of 4 million barrels per day. Additionally, the industry is focusing on the forthcoming report from the American Petroleum Institute (API) on U.S. crude inventories, anticipated to report an increase.

Market Surplus Prospects and OPEC+ Decision-Making

In the coming weeks, the decisions of OPEC and its allies, including Russia (OPEC+), regarding the extension of production cuts will be critical in shaping the market. Their actions will influence whether the market will face a surplus in the second quarter if the cuts are not continued.

Short-Term Market Outlook

The short-term forecast for crude oil prices is cautiously optimistic. The ongoing Middle East tensions are supporting higher prices, but this is tempered by the potential impact of a stronger U.S. dollar and higher yields, should U.S. economic data exceed expectations.

The decisions of OPEC and U.S. inventory levels will be key factors to watch. If OPEC+ decides to extend its production cuts and U.S. inventory levels rise less than anticipated, this could further bolster oil prices. On the other hand, failure to extend cuts or higher-than-expected inventory increases could push prices downward.

Technical Analysis

Daily Light Crude Oil Futures

Light crude oil futures are trading higher, trying to build on the momentum created since Friday, when it crossed to the bullish side of the 200-day moving average at $76.40. The long-term trend indicator is now new support.

Bullish traders may have a battle on their hands with static resistance coming in at $77.43, followed by the main top at $79.29. The latter is a potential trigger point for an acceleration to the upside with the next target $82.68.

About the Author

James is a Florida-based technical analyst, market researcher, educator and trader with 35+ years of experience. He is an expert in the area of patterns, price and time analysis as it applies to futures, Forex, and stocks.

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