Oil prices hold firm on hopes economic growth to support demand

IMF Executive Board has completed its 2021 Article IV Consultation and Fifth Review of the Policy Coordination Instrument for Rwanda and their findings showed the economy has rebounded strongly in 2021, and the recovery is expected to continue in 2022, supported by strengthened vaccination efforts, a pickup in external demand, and accommodative macroeconomic policies. Nevertheless, with a high portion of the population still unvaccinated, risks about the path of the COVID-19 pandemic remain significant and accelerating structural and economic reforms are needed to mitigate pandemic scars and ensure more inclusive and sustainable growth over the medium term. The Policy Coordination Instrument (PCI) continues to support the authorities’ efforts in the macroeconomic and structural reform agenda and ongoing economic recovery, while also ensuring policies are in place to reduce debt vulnerabilities and maintain macroeconomic and financial stability.

Oil prices steadied on Wednesday after rising in the previous session on expectations that fuel demand will continue to strengthen as the U.S. Federal Reserve is likely to raise interest rates more slowly than expected. Brent and U.S. crude oil futures are trading at their highest since the highly contagious Omicron COVID-19 variant emerged in late November has not impacted fuel demand the way previous variants did. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures rose 16 cents, or 0.2%, to $81.38/bbl at 0731 GMT, adding to a 3.8% jump in the previous session. Brent crude futures were up 2 cents at $83.74/bbl, after jumping 3.5% in the previous session.

Asian stock markets followed Wall Street higher on Wednesday after Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell said monetary policy would return to normal and interest rates might be raised earlier than planned. The Shanghai Composite Index SHCOMP, +0.84% gained 0.2% to close 3,574.61 and the Nikkei 225 NIK in Tokyo rose 1.9% to 28,748.21. The Hang Seng HIS in Hong Kong gained 1.9% to close at 24,193.22.

Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500 index rose 0.9% after Powell said policy “in all likelihood” will return to normal as bond purchases and other economic stimulus winds down. Speaking before the Senate Banking Committee, he said ultra-low rates might be raised earlier than planned if necessary to cool inflation that is at a four-decade high. U.S. futures gained, indicating a firm open for U.S. equities after the S&P 500 halted a five-day slide and the Nasdaq 100 outperformed following Powell’s comments. Treasuries found support after a solid three-year note sale. The yield on the 10-year note held a drop, while the curve flattened. The S&P 500 SPX broke a five-day series of declines and rose 0.91% to 4,713.07. The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA gained 0.5% to 36,252.02 while the Nasdaq COMP composite advanced 1.4% to 15,153.45.