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LONDON: Oil futures rose slightly on Thursday, recouping losses from earlier in the session as an expected rise in Chinese demand and further restrictions on Russian exports suggested market supply will remain tight.

Brent crude futures rose 36 cents, or 0.4%, to $85.34 a barrel at 1415 GMT. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude rose 21 cents, or 0.3%, to $79.69.

International Energy Agency’s (IEA) head, Fatih Birol, said on Thursday that energy markets could be tighter in 2023, adding that he hoped prices would not rise further to ease pressure on energy-importing developing countries.

“Looking a bit longer term, I believe Russia’s oil industry will face huge challenges,” Birol said at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

“If (the) Chinese economy rebounds this year, which many financial institutions expect, then we may see very strong demand.”

But global economic headwinds, the possibility of aggressive increases to interest rates and a stronger U.S. dollar have all weighed on oil demand.

Oil prices hit two-week highs

Also bearish for oil was a surprise jump in U.S. crude stocks and recession fears heightened by disappointing U.S. retail sales and output data.

Data from the American Petroleum Institute showed U.S. crude oil inventories rose by about 7.6 million barrels in the week ended Jan. 13, market sources said.

The mean average forecast from a Reuters’ poll of nine analysts had been for a fall of about 600,000 barrels.

“A bigger than expected fall in U.S. producer prices, a drop in retail sales and the massive decline in manufacturing output last month raised worries once again about the economic cost of rate hikes,” said PVM Oil analyst Tamas Varga.

U.S. December retail sales fell by the most in a year, while manufacturing output registered its biggest drop in nearly two years as higher borrowing costs hurt demand for goods.

The government’s Energy Information Administration will release its weekly inventory report on Thursday.


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