Why did oil prices plunge to a fresh monthly low?



Crude oil prices remained under pressure in the last three weeks and reached the fresh monthly lows on Wednesday as investors worried that aggressive U.S. interest rate hikes could trigger recession denting fuel demand. As of this writing, both Brent and WTI oil futures slightly recovered from the previous session losses while the overall momentum remains bearish.

During the last week, the Federal Reserve increased interest rates by 0.75% to slow rising inflation rates and the European Central Bank (ECB) has indicated plans to raise rates by a quarter-point next month. The market participants anticipate the Fed will deliver another 75-basis-point interest rate hike in July.

On the other hand, the strong bearish sentiment was fueled by disappointing API inventory data and President Biden's demands for fuel tax suspension. The API data showed the US Crude inventory rose 5.6 million barrels, compared with the draw of 1.43 million barrels expected. Moving ahead to the North American session, the focus shifted to the release of EIA crude inventory data.

On Wednesday, US President Biden called on Congress to suspend the federal gas tax for three months in a bid to lower soaring prices at the pump. Biden also urged the industry to refine more oil into gasoline and bring down gas prices.

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