Oil falls on fears of economic slowdown, stronger dollar

Oil pump jacks are seen at the Vaca Muerta shale oil and gas field in the Patagonian province of Neuquen, Argentina, January 21, 2019. REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian

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  • Dollar hits 5-week high on hawkish Fed comments ahead of Jackson Hole
  • China’s Sichuan extends power curbs on heat wave – Caixin
  • China cuts lending benchmarks to revive faltering economy
  • Leaders of the US, UK, France, Germany discuss Iran’s nuclear issue

TOKYO, Aug 22 (Reuters) – Oil prices fell on Monday, ending three days of gains, as investors worried that aggressive U.S. interest rate hikes will weaken the global economy and reduce demand for the fuel, while a strengthening dollar also added to the pressure.

Brent crude futures for October settlement fell $1.58, or 1.6%, to $95.14 a barrel by 0640 GMT.

US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures for September delivery, which expire on Monday, were down $1.70, or 1.9%, at $89.07 a barrel. The more active October contract was at $88.92, down $1.52, or 1.7%.

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Both Brent and WTI climbed for a third straight day on Friday, but fell around 1.5% for the week on a stronger dollar and demand fears.

“Rising fears of a global economic slowdown are behind the drop in oil markets,” said Tatsufumi Okoshi, senior economist at Nomura Securities.

“A higher US dollar also led to new sales,” he said.

The dollar index rose to a five-week high on Monday after Richmond Fed President Thomas Barkin said the “urge” among central bankers was toward faster, front-loaded rate hikes. read more

A stronger dollar makes oil more expensive for buyers in other currencies.

Investors will be closely watching comments from Fed Chairman Jerome Powell when he addresses an annual global central bank conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, on Friday.

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The Fed is seen as having more room to raise interest rates than central banks in other major economies that are more fragile.

Prices also fell on concerns over slowing demand for fuel in China, the world’s biggest oil importer, due to a power outage in the southwest caused by a heat wave.

“China’s curbing of power in some regions is also a concern as it could affect economic activity,” said Hiroyuki Kikukawa, managing director of research at Nissan Securities.

China’s southwestern Sichuan province will extend curbs for industrial power consumers until Aug. 25 as it tries to deal with dwindling hydropower generation and rising household electricity demand after a long heat wave, financial news service Caixin said. read more

In a sign of general concern about the Chinese economy, Beijing cut its benchmark interest rate and lowered its mortgage benchmark by a wide margin on Monday, adding to last week’s easing, to revive an economy hobbled by a property crisis and a resurgence of COVID. matters. read more

Meanwhile, the leaders of the United States, Britain, France and Germany discussed efforts to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, the White House said on Sunday, although no further details were provided. read more

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Reporting by Yuka Obayashi; Editing by Jamie Freed and Christian Schmollinger

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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