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SINGAPORE: Oil prices rose on Wednesday, rebounding from losses earlier in the session amid concerns over fuel demand and the broader economy ahead of an expected big hike in interest rates by the U.S. Federal Reserve.
In a volatile session, Brent crude futures for August were up 46 cents, or 0.4%, at $121.63 a barrel as of 0642 GMT after falling to as low as $120.65 earlier in the session on the back of a 0.9% decline on Tuesday.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude for July rose 41 cents, or 0.3%, to $119.34 a barrel, after hitting a low of $118.22 earlier in the day, having dropped 1.7% a day earlier.
Surging inflation has led investors and oil traders to brace for a big move by the Fed this week - a 75-basis-point increase, which would be the largest U.S. interest rate hike in 28 years.
"An aggressively hawkish signal from the (U.S.) Fed may increase concerns of a global recession, which may dampen the demands of the energy market," said Leona Liu, analyst at Singapore-based DailyFX.
"If the Fed announces a 75-basis-points hike tonight, oil prices may be notably weak against the dollar in the short term as a hawkish Fed may push investors flow into safe-haven dollar and hit risk-sensitive assets like oil."
On the demand side, China's latest COVID outbreak, traced to a 24-hour bar in Beijing, has raised fears of a new phase of lockdowns.
The country's economy, however, showed signs of recovery in May after slumping in the prior month as industrial production rose unexpectedly.
In its monthly report, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) stuck to its forecast that world oil demand will exceed pre-pandemic levels in 2022.
"Overall, the supply/demand situation remains supply-constrained, and I can't see that reality changing until the world economy slows sharply," said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at OANDA.
Still, offering some support to prices is tight supply, which has been aggravated by a drop in exports from Libya amid a political crisis that has hit output and ports. - Reuters