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WTI lacks direction, consolidates below $86.00

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West Texas Intermediate (WTI) is struggling to capitalise on the previous day’s goodish bounce from the $84.00 mark, or over a one-week low and oscillating in a narrow band during Asian trading on Thursday.

The benchmark crude currently trades around the $85.75-85.80 area and remains well supported by concerns about the worsening Middle East crisis.

Ceasefire talks between Israel and Hamas have yielded no agreement. Adding to this, a possible Iranian retaliation over a suspected Israeli strike on its embassy in Syria raises the risk that the Israel-Hamas war could escalate across the Middle East.

This could put the oil supply at risk and act as a tailwind for the black gold, though a substantial rise in US crude inventories cap the upside.

Official data published by the U.S. Energy Information Administration showed an estimated oil inventory build of 5.8 mln barrels for the week to April 5, much more than market expectations and a build of 3.2 mln barrels from the previous week.

Adding to this, an unexpected build in gasoline inventories pointed to signs of cooling in fuel demand, which, in turn, keeps a lid on crude oil prices.

Furthermore, the hotter US consumer inflation figures released on Wednesday forced investors to push back their expectations for the first interest rate cut by the Federal Reserve to September from June.

This is expected to hamper economic activity and further dent fuel consumption, warranting some caution before positioning for any further appreciating move for crude oil prices.

Moving ahead, traders now look to the US economic docket – featuring the release of the usual Weekly Initial Jobless Claims and the Producer Price Index (PPI).

This, along with speeches by influential FOMC members, should drive the USD demand and provide some impetus to the US Dollar-denominated commodities, including crude oil prices.

(Source: OANDA)