© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The Imperial Strathcona Refinery which produces petrochemicals is seen near Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, October 7, 2021. REUTERS/Todd Korol/File Photo
By Ahmad Ghaddar and Swati Verma
LONDON (Reuters) – Oil prices steadied on Friday as investors sought more clarity on the imminent EU embargo on Russian refined fuels, with prices set for a second weekly loss in the absence of clear signs of demand recovery in top consumer China.
futures gained 15 cents, or 0.2%, to $82.32 a barrel at 1301 GMT, having dropped by about 1% in the previous session. US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 12 cents, or 0.2%, at $76.00.
Brent is poised to register close to a 5% decline this week while WTI is on course for a 3.6% drop.
Investors are eyeing developments on the Feb. 5 European Union ban on Russian refined products, with EU countries seeking a deal on Friday to set price caps for Russian oil products.
The Kremlin said on Friday that the EU embargo on Russia’s refined oil products would lead to further imbalance in global energy markets.
“The exact details around what the cap will be and how they will implement it are still unclear,” Capital Economics commodities economist Bill Weatherburn said, adding that the uncertainty is keeping a lid on prices.
“There hasn’t been any data out of China to indicate the extent of the recovery in China’s crude demand.”
ANZ analysts noted a sharp jump in traffic in China’s 15 largest cities after the Lunar New Year holiday but said that Chinese traders had been “relatively absent”.
Markets now await US payrolls data due at 1330 GMT. US job growth in January is likely to have remained strong thanks to a resilient labor market, but expectations of a continued slowdown in wage gains offer the Federal Reserve some comfort in its fight against inflation, a Reuters survey showed.
The US central bank scaled back to a milder rate increase than those over the past year, but policymakers also projected that “ongoing increases” in borrowing costs would be needed.
Increases to interest rates in 2023 are likely to weigh on the US and European economies, boosting fears of an economic slowdown that is highly likely to dent global demand, said Priyanka Sachdeva, market analyst at Phillip Nova.