Oil steadied above $100 a barrel in a volatile session on Wednesday, as it came under pressure from signs of progress in Russia-Ukraine peace talks and a closely-watched report that cut its forecast of world demand.
Ukraine’s president said the positions of Ukraine and Russia were sounding more realistic, but time was needed. Russia’s foreign minister said some deals with Ukraine were close to being agreed.
“Fears of a supply disruption have been tempered by tentative signs of progress in ceasefire talks between Russia and Ukraine,” said Stephen Brennock of oil broker PVM.
“That said, an end to hostilities still seems like a long way off.”
Brent crude rose 46 cents or 0.5% to $100.37 a barrel by 1225 GMT, having traded as high as $103.70 earlier. US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude added 59 cents or 0.6% to $97.03.
The price falls also followed the release of the International Energy Agency’s monthly report that cut its oil demand forecast for 2022.. A day earlier, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries held its forecast steady.
Crude settled below $100 on Tuesday, the first time since late February. Trading has been volatile since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, with prices hitting a 14-year high on March 7, but Brent has since fallen nearly $40 a barrel.
The US Federal Reserve is expected to raise rates for the first time in three years later on Wednesday and give guidance on future tightening. Investors are expecting the central bank to raise rates by at least 25 basis points.
Oil had also come under pressure this week from concerns of slowing demand in China as it takes measures against the Omicron coronavirus variant. Those fears appeared to ease on Wednesday, as figures showed fewer new cases.
Besides the Fed decision, in focus on Wednesday will be the latest round of US inventory data due at 1530 GMT from the Energy Information Administration. Analysts expect a 1.4 million barrel drop in crude stocks.