Oil rises on Russia crisis, but U.S. crude stays below $70

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Investing.com — Oil prices rose Monday as the market took in its stride speculation about Vladimir Putin’s hold on power after a weekend uprising against the president of Russia, the world’s third largest oil producer. 

But U.S. crude remained below the $70 per barrel mark as investors balanced fears about political instability in Moscow with concerns about global demand growth, which is key to energy demand.

New York-traded West Texas Intermediate, or , settled up 21 cents, or 0.3%, at $69.37 per barrel, after an intraday low at $68.70. The U.S. crude benchmark has had a volatile June but is still poised to end the month up 2% after an 11% drop in May.

London-traded crude settled up 33 cents, or 0.5%, at $74.18, after a session bottom of $73.62. Like WTI, the global crude benchmark has had a rocky June, and is headed for a 3% gain after May’s 9% loss.

Market consensus appears to be that oil prices will be on the defensive in the near term, or at least be restrained from blowing into an all-out rally

“At this point there’s more questions than answers and most people believe that this is a huge blow to the Presidency of Vladimir Putin,” Phil Flynn, analyst at Chicago broker Price Futures Group, said, referring to Saturday’s near confrontation between the Kremlin and heavily armed mercenaries loyal to Yevgeny Prigozhin.

“The Russian people are also getting weary about the war in Ukraine after being promised a quick victory by Putin only to have it continue along with a mountain of body bags filled with Russian soldiers,” added Flynn. “Prigozhin has been critical of the war effort and has wanted to take a much more aggressive approach in Ukraine and has been critical of the war tactics coming down from the Kremlin.”

At half-year mark, oil market uncertainty grows

The oil market is at a crossroads as the half-year mark approaches. 

Inflation higher than desired by U.S. to European authorities suggests that economies on both sides of the Atlantic are chugging along just fine to keep oil demand alive. Higher inflation also keeps alive hedging in gold. 

But with central banks from the Fed to the BoE and ECB eyeing more rate hikes, the dollar and U.S. Treasury yields could see fresh spikes at the mid-year point, weighing on both gold and oil.

Investors will get a fresh update on the possible future path of interest rates on Friday with the release of May data on the personal consumption expenditures price index, the Federal Reserve’s preferred inflation gauge.

Inflation here, there, everywhere

In the 12 months through April, the as well as the were still running well above the Fed’s 2% target.

The inflation numbers will feed into investor expectations around the in July after the central bank paused tightening at its June meeting but signaled more hikes ahead. Prior to that, the latest report is due out Tuesday after the index hit a six-month low in May. June’s index is expected to tick higher.

The eurozone is to release for June on Friday. And while the headline rate of inflation is expected to moderate, is expected to tick higher, underlining the challenge facing the ECB.

ECB President Christine Lagarde struck a more hawkish tone than expected following the bank’s most recent policy meeting, reiterating that rates would need to be increased again in order to bring inflation down to the ECB’s 2% target and that they “will be kept at those levels for as long as necessary.”

Traders are now betting on a July hike by the ECB and expect another move by October that would bring rates to 4%.

Investors will get a chance to hear from Lagarde, along with Fed Chair Jerome Powell and other global central bank heads, at a panel discussion at the ECB’s annual forum in Sintra, Portugal on Wednesday. Inflation is likely to be front and center during that exchange.

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