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Oil prices sink as Fed meeting looms, M.East fears on backburner Oil prices fell in Asian trade on Monday, reversing a bulk of gains made in the prior session as anticipation of a Federal Reserve meeting and key economic readings this week spurred some profit-taking.

Traders remained watchful of the Israel-Hamas war, after Israel over the weekend launched a ground assault on Gaza. But signs of no immediate escalation in the war, as well as few actual disruptions to Middle Eastern oil supply kept concerns over the conflict somewhat limited.

Fears that the Israel-Hamas war could disrupt oil supplies in the region had been a major boost to prices earlier in October, although traders struggled to gauge what the actual impact of the war will be. This kept crude markets largely volatile, with Brent constantly toying with the $90 a barrel level in recent sessions.

Brent oil futures fell 0.6% to $88.74 a barrel, while West Texas Intermediate crude futures fell 0.7% to $84.94 a barrel by 21:12 ET (01:12 GMT). Both contracts lost about 3% last week.

Fed meeting, China PMIs a key point of focus this week

Oil markets were largely on edge before a Federal Reserve meeting this Wednesday, with any hawkish signals from the central bank presenting more headwinds for crude demand.

Fears of higher-for-longer U.S. interest rates weighed on oil prices in recent months, somewhat offsetting a boost from tighter supplies. While U.S. fuel demand has remained steady despite higher rates, traders fear that this could change in the coming months.

The Fed is widely expected to keep rates on hold this week. But officials have still kept the door open for one more rate hike this year, especially following several hotter-than-expected inflation readings.

The dollar steadied on Monday, retaining recent gains and also keeping some pressure on oil prices.

But before the Fed meeting, markets are also awaiting key purchasing managers index data from China, which is set to shed more light on business activity in the world’s biggest oil importer.

China’s economy has shown some signs of stabilizing in recent months after seeing a sharp decline in growth this year. The country’s aviation regulator recently said it will increase domestic flights to 34% above pre-pandemic levels- a positive sign for oil demand, although air travel still makes up a small portion of the China’s overall fuel consumption.

The Bank of Japan is also set to meet on Tuesday, with traders pricing in a potential policy shift in the bank as it grapples with rising inflation.

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