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Oil Traders Spooked By COVID Lockdowns In China

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures are trading lower for the week while testing the key technical area that has held as support for two months. The catalysts behind this week’s selling pressure are new COVID-19 lockdown measures in China, high inflation and rising interest rates. All three events point toward lower fuel demand. Also contributing to the weak price action is the U.S. oil boom, which is helping to expand supplies incrementally.

Heading into the end of the week, the key wildcard will remain a possible revival of a 2015 Iran nuclear deal which would allow the OPEC member to boost its oil exports also weighed on prices. Additionally, French President Emmanuel Macron said on Thursday he hoped a deal would be concluded in the coming days.

China’s Zero-COVID Curbs Continue to Drive Demand Concerns

Reuters reported that Asia’s factory activity slumped in August as China’s zero-COVID curbs and cost pressures continued to hurt businesses, darkening the outlook for the region’s fragile recovery.

China’s factory activity contracted for the first time in three months in August amid weakening demand, while power shortages and fresh COVID-19 flare-ups disrupted production, a private sector survey showed on Thursday.

The unexpectedly weak reading echoed China’s official PMI released on Wednesday, which was also below the 50-point mark that separates growth from contraction on a monthly basis.

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