Crude oil prices fall $4 as bank fears rattle markets

LONDON, March 13 (Reuters) – Oil prices fell $4 along with stocks on Monday as the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank raised fears of a new financial crisis, but a rebound in Chinese demand provided support.

Brent crude futures fell $3.96, or 4.8%, to $78.82 a barrel. barrel at 1220 GMT. West Texas Intermediate US crude futures (WTI) fell $3.86, or 5%, to $72.82 a barrel. barrel.

Brent hit its lowest levels since early January, while WTI touched prices not seen since early December.

Fears of contagion from Silicon Valley Bank’s failure led to a selloff in U.S. assets late last week, while state regulators shut down New York-based Signature Bank ( SBNY.O ) on Sunday.

Europe’s STOXX banking index (.SX7P) fell 5.7%, after falling 3.8% on Friday. The US authorities launched emergency measures on Sunday to strengthen confidence in the banking system.

Market sentiment was already fragile as worries about further monetary policy tightening by the Fed have been exacerbated by high crude oil inventories in the US, analysts at ANZ Bank said in a note on Monday morning.

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“It’s like the battle over rising activity data in the East meets macro malaise in the West,” said Stephen Innes, managing partner at SPI Asset Management, commenting on the competing sentiment drivers in the crude oil market.

In recent days, a weaker dollar, which makes oil cheaper for holders of other currencies, has provided some support to prices.

Oil’s drop follows positive momentum on Friday, when US employment numbers surprised to the upside. Data for February beat expectations, with nonfarm payrolls rising by 311,000 compared with expectations for 205,000 jobs added, according to a Reuters poll.

From a medium- to long-term supply perspective, energy services firm Baker Hughes Co ( BKR.O ) said on Friday that U.S. energy companies last week cut the number of oil and natural gas rigs operating for the fourth straight week, the first time since July 2020.

Additional reporting by Andrew Hayley; editing by Kirsten Donovan and Jason Neely

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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