Oil prices fell three percent on Thursday, in a sharp decline, and shipping companies announced they were ready to sail in the Red Sea, easing fears of supply disruptions as tensions continue to rise over the Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip.
Brent crude futures for March delivery fell $2.39, or three percent, to $77.15 a barrel at settlement, while February futures contracts, which expire today after settlement, fell 1.3 percent to $78.39 a barrel, according to agency.Reuters. .
U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures were also down $2.34, or about 3.2 percent, at $71.77 a barrel.
Oil prices fell about two percent on Wednesday as major shipping companies began to return to the Red Sea route following attacks by the Ansar Allah group “Houthi” on Israeli ships and Israeli ports.
A Reuters analysis of Danish shipping company Maersk's operating schedule showed on Thursday that the company will now route all container ships traveling between Asia and Europe through the Suez Canal, while diverting only a small number to the Cape of Good Hope. path.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported a larger-than-expected draw in U.S. crude oil inventories last week, limiting price declines for a time.
Earlier this week, French shipping group CMA CGM said it wanted to increase the number of its ships crossing the Suez Canal.
Crude inventories fell by 7.1 million barrels in the week ended Dec. 22, compared with analysts' expectations for a 2.7 million barrel decline in a Reuters poll, administrative data showed. U.S. Gulf Coast crude inventories fell by 11.03 million barrels, the biggest decline since August, administration data showed.
Investors expect interest rates in Europe and the US to be cut in 2024, which could boost oil demand.