Oil prices fall as nervous investors await US Fed rate decision

Oil prices fell to multi-week lows on Monday as analysts highlighted rising global supplies and concerns about demand growth just ahead of key inflation data and a U.S. Federal Reserve meeting later this week.

Brent crude futures fell $2, or 2.7%, to $72.79 a barrel by 11:50 a.m. EDT (15:50 GMT), while West Texas Intermediate crude futures fell $2.16, or 3.1%, to $68.01 a barrel.

Goldman Sachs cut its oil price forecasts on higher-than-expected supplies from Russia and Iran. The bank’s December crude price forecast now stands at $86 a barrel for Brent, down from $95, and at $81 a barrel for WTI, down from $89.

“Goldman capitulating on their bullish price forecast appears to have been the catalyst to kickstart selling today,” said Kpler analyst Matt Smith.

The revision comes at the start of a busy week for the U.S. Federal Reserve, which meets on Wednesday and is expected to leave interest rates unchanged for this month. However, investors are concerned the Fed is likely to resume rate hikes from next month, said UBS analyst Robert Yawger.

The Fed’s rate hikes have strengthened the dollar, making commodities denominated in the U.S. currency more expensive for holders of other currencies and weighing on prices.

Also weighing on investors’ minds, demand growth is yet to materialize in China, the top importer of crude oil and refined products.

That may lead to downward revisions to demand forecasts from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and the International Energy Agency, which will issue monthly market updates on Tuesday.

“Chinese demand has shown no signs of materializing, and it could be as much as 2 million barrels a day, so it is a significant amount. There are definitely fears that these guys (OPEC and IEA) will cut their demand forecasts,” Yawger said.

Last week, both Brent and WTI posted a second straight weekly decline as disappointing Chinese economic data raised concerns about demand growth in the world’s largest crude importer. That erased a boost in prices after Saudi Arabia pledged to cut production in July by 1 million barrels per day (bpd).

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