Oil dives 3%, trade choppy on worries about China, global economy

3 weeks ago 35
  • China raises export quotas for refined oil products
  • IMF head warns of growth slowing in major economies
  • Dollar heads for largest one-day rise in over three months

HOUSTON, Jan 3 (Reuters) - Oil prices tumbled 3% in volatile trade on Tuesday, pressured by weak demand data from China, a gloomy economic outlook and a stronger U.S. dollar.

Brent futures for March delivery fell $2.73, or 3.2%, to $83.18 a barrel by 1:16 p.m. ET (18:16 GMT). U.S. crude fell $2.46 to $77.80 per barrel, a 3.1% loss.

Both benchmarks rose $1 a barrel early in the session, then reversed course, headed for their largest daily decline in nearly a month.

"There is plenty of reason for concerns here - the China COVID-19 situation and the fear of recession in the foreseeable future is putting pressure on markets," Mizuho analyst Robert Yawger said.

The Chinese government has raised export quotas for refined oil products in the first batch for 2023. Traders attributed the increase to expectations of poor domestic demand as the world's largest crude importer continues to battle waves of infections.

Another worry: China's factory activity shrank in December as surging infections disrupted production and weighed on demand after Beijing largely removed anti-virus curbs.

Adding to the gloomy economic outlook, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva on Sunday said the economies of the United States, Europe and China, the main engines of global growth, were all slowing simultaneously, making 2023 tougher than 2022 for the global economy.

The dollar was headed for its largest one-day rise in over three months . A stronger dollar can crimp demand for oil, making the dollar-denominated commodity more expensive for holders of other currencies.

On Wednesday, the market will scour minutes of the U.S. Fed's December policy meeting. The Fed raised interest rates by 50 basis points (bps) in December after four consecutive increases of 75 bps each.

Also on the radar, U.S. December payrolls data is due on Friday. Analysts expect the data to show the labour market remains tight.

Oil stocks at the Cushing storage hub rose about 176,000 barrels to 28.6 million barrels in the week to Dec 30, a broker said, citing Genscape data.

U.S. crude output in 2023 is expected to rise by an average of 620,000 barrels per day, according to the latest government estimates, a third less than the roughly 1 million bpd some forecasts called for at the start of the year. [nL1N33K1XG]

Commerzbank said it expects the global economic outlook to play a "much more important role" in oil price developments than production decisions taken by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies, a group known collectively as OPEC+.

The bank expects signs of economic recovery "in key economic areas" to push Brent back towards $100 a barrel, which it said could happen from the second quarter of the year onwards.

"The outlook remains highly uncertain, though, which should ensure oil prices remain highly volatile," said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at OANDA.

Reporting by Rowena Edwards Additional reporting by Florence Tan and Trixie Yap in Singapore Editing by David Evans, David Goodman and David Gregorio

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