WTI crude futures held below $69 per barrel on Friday and were on track to lose more than 10% this week, weighed down by persistent concerns that higher interest rates could slow the global economy and hurt energy demand. Both the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank raised their policy rates by 25 basis points this week, fueling fears that tightening financial conditions will push major economies into a recession.
A surprise contraction in Chinese manufacturing activity amid weakening global demand also clouded the outlook for the world’s top crude importer. On the supply side, Russian crude exports jumped above 4 million barrels a day last week despite the country’s pledge to reduce production. This prompted speculations that Russia could be ramping up oil exports to maximize income for its beleaguered economy.