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Futures Movers: U.S. oil prices end at highest since 2008 as Russia-Ukraine war drives supply fears

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Oil futures rallied on Friday, with U.S. prices settling at their highest since 2008 and posting their biggest weekly dollar gain on record, with prices elevated again Friday as Russia’s war on Ukraine intensified, leading to a now-extinguished fire at a nuclear plant.

Price action

April West Texas Intermediate crude futures 
CL.1,
+7.47%

CLJ22,
+7.47%

CL00,
+7.47%

rose $8.01, or 7.4%, to settle at $115.68 a barrel, the highest finish since September 2008. For the week, prices based on the front-month contract, rose $24.09, or 26.3%. The weekly dollar gain was the highest on record, based on data going back to April 1983, according to Dow Jones Market Data.

May Brent crude 
BRN00,
+0.52%

BRNK22,
+0.52%
,
the global benchmark, climbed to $118.11 a barrel, a gain of $7.65, or 6.9%, with prices marking the highest settlement since February 2013. For the week, Brent was up 25.5%, the strongest weekly percentage advance based on records going back to January 1991.

April natural gas 
NGJ22,
+5.04%

rose 6.2% to $5.016 per million British thermal units, up 12.2% for the week.

April gasoline 
RBJ22,
+7.82%

rose 7.9% to $3.544 a gallon, with prices up 23.3% for the week. April heating oil 
RBJ22,
+7.82%

rose 7.8% to $3.776 a gallon, up nearly 35% for the week.

Market drivers

Prices of oil and several other commodities have surged since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that began more than a week ago. On Friday, Russian shelling triggered a fire at Europe’s biggest nuclear power plant, Zaporizhzhia plant in the city of Enerhodar.

Read: Key commodities index sees strongest weekly rise on record as Russia-Ukraine war rallies wheat and oil

The fire was extinguished and Ukraine’s state nuclear regulator said radiation levels in the area had not changed. Russian troops are now controlling the nuclear plant, according to the Associated Press.

“Any events which reduce supply such as stricter sanctions or damage to production/pipelines could spark another up leg” for oil prices, Colin Cieszynski, chief market strategist at SIA Wealth Management, told MarketWatch. “On the other hand, events which could increase supply in the market, such as a new deal between the U.S. and Iran that would allow Iran to resume exporting, could potentially cause the current rally to slow or reverse course.”

On Friday, news reports said a renewed nuclear deal with Iran was near, but investors remain fixated on a scramble for barrels of oil. That excludes Russian oil, which is also putting a strain on global supplies, as market participants shun supplies from that country.

Read: Why Russian oil can’t find buyers even as crude nearly touches $120 a barrel

Also see: Baker Hughes data show U.S. oil-drilling rig count down for the first time in 6 weeks

Moody’s warned Friday that the Russia-Ukraine war was raising risks for the global economy and increasing inflationary pressures through higher prices from key commodities including oil.

“Escalation of the military conflict would put Europe’s economic recovery at risk,” said Kelvin Dalrymple, senior credit officer at Moody’s, in a note Friday.

“The rest of the world will be affected by commodity price shocks at a time when inflation is already high, and by financial repercussions from the sanctions against Russia and from financial market volatility,” he said.

Meanwhile, the U.S. saw upbeat monthly data on U.S. employment. The nation added 678,000 jobs in February, compared with a rise of 440,000 jobs forecast by economists polled by The Wall Street Journal.

Bond Report: 2- and 10-year Treasury yields post biggest weekly declines in almost two years as Russia seizes nuclear power plant

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