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Futures Movers: Oil futures end lower in volatile trade, hold ground at 8-month lows

Oil futures moved lower in volatile trading Monday as fears of a recession lead to a dip in prices to their lowest since January.

Traders have been concerned that aggressive tightening by the Federal Reserve and other central banks will spark a sharp downturn in the global economy, but they’ve also been wary of tight oil supplies.

Price action

West Texas Intermediate crude for November delivery
CL.1,
-2.78%

CL00,
-2.78%

CLX22,
-2.78%

fell $1.14, or 1.5%, to $77.60 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange after tapping a low at $77.21. Front-month WTI fell 7.1% last week to end Friday at its lowest level since Jan. 10.

November Brent crude
BRNX22,
-2.65%
,
the global benchmark, was down $1.25, or 1.5%, at $84.90 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe after falling to as low as $84.49. Front-month Brent dropped 5.7% last week, logging its lowest close since Jan. 14 on Friday. The most actively traded December contract
BRN00,
-2.78%

BRNZ22,
-2.78%

shed $1.29, or 1.5%, to $83.74 a barrel.

Back on Nymex, October gasoline
RBV22,
-1.30%

rose 0.1% to $2.3852 a gallon, while October heating oil
HOV22,
-3.86%

shed 3.2%, to $3.1351 a gallon.

October natural gas
NGV22,
-0.62%

lost 1.2% to $6.746 per million British thermal units.

Market drivers

Oil prices on Friday “started to price in a major recession as the dollar index soared and risk assets contracted,” said Phil Flynn, senior market analyst at The Price Futures Group, in a Monday report. “It is very likely we’re going to see continued volatility in the energy complex and more downside price risk in the short term.”

In Monday dealings, the ICE U.S. Dollar Index
DXY,
+0.86%
,
a measure of the currency against a basket of six major rivals, topped 114 to touch another 20-year high. Strength in the dollar can pressure prices for dollar-denominated commodities, such as oil.

Currency markets remained volatile. The British pound
GBPUSD,
-1.51%

slumped to a record low versus the U.S. dollar, after the U.K. government on Friday introduced a package of large tax cuts that are expected to exacerbate already hot inflation. The pound, however, has since moved up.

Still, “longer term, the supply side is still going to be tight and even though the market is pricing in a major recession, they’re probably overdoing it,” said Flynn. “When China reopens its economy it should offset any demand destruction that we see from a recession. It will keep the global oil markets very tight.”

It’s also very likely that Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries is going to reduce supply, he said, noting that traders may use weakness in oil prices to “put on long term bullish option strategies.”

Prices for oil briefly trading higher in Monday dealings, likely “seeing a mix of bargain hunting and concern about Hurricane Ian,” Michael Lynch, president at Strategic Energy & Economic Research, told MarketWatch. The storm “shouldn’t have a major impact on the Gulf oil-and-gas operations, but there is always a possibility that it veers slightly to the west and does some damage.”

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