Oil prices experienced a decline in the early hours of Tuesday, as worries about weakening energy demand took precedence over concerns about attacks on tanker ships in the Red Sea.

The U.S. benchmark, West Texas Intermediate, saw a slight retreat of 0.6%, settling at $72.24 per barrel. Meanwhile, the international standard, Brent crude, declined by 0.3% to reach $77.94 per barrel. Although both contracts have seen an increase of more than 1% since the beginning of the year, they still remain approximately 15% lower than their levels three months ago.

According to The Wall Street Journal, there were recent attacks on Western targets off the coast of Yemen on Monday, and the Iran-backed Houthi rebels have vowed to expand the scope of their targets. However, comments from central bankers suggesting that interest rates may remain high have affected expectations regarding the strength of the global economy in the coming months.

While conflicts in the Middle East may provide some support for oil prices, the outlook for demand could limit any significant rise in prices, according to Kelvin Wong, a strategist at Oanda. “There are no clear catalysts to determine whether the bulls or bears are leading the oil market as conflicting factors are at play, thus causing a flux situation,” Wong stated in a note on Tuesday.

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