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Oil Prices Fall As Transportation Disruptions Ease

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Oil prices retreated by around one percent on Thursday as concerns about shipping disruption along the Red Sea eased, despite escalating tensions in the Middle East. Danish shipping company Maersk announced schedules for dozens of container ships to traverse the Suez Canal and the Red Sea in the coming weeks after calling for a temporary halt to those routes earlier this month following attacks by Houthi militias.

However, the U.S.-led alliance aimed at calming tensions in the Red Sea has not yet yielded coordinated action as anticipated. A week after the launch of the U.S.-led naval force, many allies are hesitant to be associated with it, partially reflecting the rifts caused by the conflict in Gaza. The United States has maintained strong support for Israel despite increasing international criticism of its attack.

The possibility of a long-term Israeli military campaign in Gaza and the extension of the conflict to attacks on ships in the Red Sea continue to drive market sentiment.

The U.S. government is expected to release fuel inventory data on Thursday, and Wednesday’s data from the American Petroleum Institute showed a 1.84 million barrel increase in crude inventories for the week ending December 22, contrary to the estimates of seven analysts polled by Reuters, who expected a decrease of 2.7 million barrels.

At the same time, the growing likelihood of interest rate cuts in Europe and the United States in 2024 is viewed positively from the perspective of oil demand.

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