The oil market settled lower on Friday, reversing early gains of more than $1 a barrel as banking sector fears caused both benchmarks to reach their biggest weekly declines in months.
Brent crude futures lost $1.73 or 2.3 per cent to close at $72.97 per barrel, and the US West Texas Intermediate crude fell by $1.61 or 2.4 per cent to settle at $66.74 per barrel.
Brent fell nearly by 12 per cent in the week, its biggest weekly fall since December, and on its part, WTI futures fell 13 per cent, its biggest since last April.
The market has remained jittery following the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) and Signature Bank and with trouble at Credit Suisse and First Republic Bank.
The latest help went to First Republic Bank, which was rescued by a group of major US lenders, easing worries about the current banking turmoil.
The news calmed the markets, which were on edge over a potential banking crisis following the collapse of two US banks and the storm at Credit Suisse over the past week.
The bank is set to receive a $30 billion lifeline from a group of America’s largest banks, including JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, and Truist.
Investors are now awaiting the Federal Reserve’s rate decision next week. They widely expect the US central bank to raise rates by 25 basis points.
Analysts still expect constrained global supply to support oil prices in the foreseeable future.
Members of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies (OPEC+) attributed this week’s price weakness to financial drivers rather than any supply and demand imbalance, adding that they expected the market to stabilise.
Saudi Arabia and Russia, in a meeting on Thursday, affirmed their commitment to OPEC+’s decision last October to cut production targets by two million barrels per day until the end of 2023.
This comes ahead of an OPEC+ monitoring panel meeting that is due to meet on April 3.
There are also expectations that China’s demand recovery will continue to support prices, with US crude exports to China in March heading towards their highest in nearly two and a half years.