UPDATE 4-Oil prices set to end year 10% lower as demand concerns snap winning streak

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Updates prices

By Ahmad Ghaddar and Noah Browning

- Oil prices are set to end 2023 about 10% lower after two years of gains as geopolitical concerns, production cuts and central bank measures to rein in inflation triggered wild fluctuations in prices.

On Friday, oil climbed after falling 3% the previous day as more shipping firms prepared to transit the Red Sea route. Major firms had stopped using Red Sea routes after Yemen's Houthi militant group began targeting vessels.

Brent crude futures LCOc1 were up 72 cents, or 0.9%, at $77.87 a barrel at 1420 GMT, the last trading day of 2023, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures CLc1 were up 76 cents, or 1.1%, at $72.53.

Yet the two benchmarks are on track for their lowest year-end levels since 2020, when the pandemic battered demand and sent prices nose-diving.

Production cuts by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies led by Russia, or OPEC+, have proved insufficient to prop up prices, with the benchmarks down nearly 20% from the year's highs.

OPEC+ is currently cutting output by around six million barrels per day, representing about 6% of global supply.

OPEC is facing weakening demand for its crude in the first half of 2024 just as its global market share declines to the lowest since the pandemic on output cuts and Angola's exit from the group.

A Reuters survey of 34 economists and analysts forecast Brent crude would average $82.56 in 2024, down from November's $84.43 consensus, as they predicted weak global growth would cap demand, while geopolitical tensions could provide support.

Oil's weak year-end performance contrasts with global equities, which are on track to end 2023 higher.

The MSCI equity index .MIWD00000PUS, which tracks shares in 47 countries, is up about 20% as investors ramp up bets on rapid-fire rate cuts from the U.S. Federal Reserve next year.

In the currency market, the dollar was on the back foot and headed for a 2% decline this year after two years of strong gains.

(Additional reporting by Sudarshan Varadhan in Singapore
Editing by Jason Neely and Mark Potter)


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