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Oil falls $2 on reserve release

World stocks dipped further from recent six-week highs on Friday on worries about the Russia-Ukraine war and recession risks, and oil fell $2 a barrel on reserve releases.

European buyers of Russian gas faced a deadline to start paying in roubles on Friday, while negotiations aimed at ending the five-week war were set to resume even as Ukraine braced for further attacks in the south and east. The move on gas by Russian President Vladimir Putin in response to Western sanctions prompted Germany, the most reliant on Russian gas, to accuse him of ‘blackmail’ as it activated an emergency plan that could lead to rationing.

The war threatens also to disrupt global food supplies, with a US government official sharing images of what they said was damage to Ukrainian grain storage facilities. 

Oil prices continued to slide following an announcement on Thursday of huge releases from US strategic reserves and ahead of a Friday meeting of oil-consuming nations to discuss their own reserve releases. US crude futures fell more than $2 a barrel to $98.17 and Brent futures were also down $2 at $102.66 a barrel. Oil is on course for a 14% weekly fall – the sharpest in almost two years, after an earlier surge due largely to the Ukraine conflict had seen prices rise by more than 30%.

Investors are fretting over whether inflationary pressures will force central banks into aggressive rate hikes, potentially triggering recessions.

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