Oil prices were steady on Monday as a strong US job report which curbed sharp falls last week dampened hopes of swift rate cuts, but a US pledge to continue air strikes in the Middle East kept geopolitical tensions high.
Brent crude futures gained 10 cents, or 0.1%, to $77.43 a barrel by 1420 GMT, while US West Texas Intermediate crude futures were flat at $72.28 a barrel.
Both benchmarks ended last week down about 7% after stronger-than-expected US jobs data suggested interest rate cuts could be further out than expected.
Read Oil rises over $1
The report showed job growth accelerating in January and wages up by the most in nearly two years, signs that could complicate interest rates cuts by the US Federal Reserve which financial markets had envisioned could start in May.
The data “pushes the timeline for Fed’s highly anticipated cutting cycle out into the second quarter”, said Jeff Schulze, Head of Economic and Market Strategy at ClearBridge Investments. Meanwhile, progress on ceasefire negotiations between Israel and Hamas appeared elusive, indicating tensions in the oil-producing region are set to linger.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 6th, 2024.