An oil rig off the coast in Huntington Beach, Calif., April 5, 2020.
Leonard Ortiz | MediaNews Group | Orange County Register | Getty Images
Oil prices fell on Thursday after an unexpected increase in crude oil inventories in the United States and as rising COVID-19 infections threaten demand, but prices have kept most of their gains from the previous session, expecting supplies to remain tight until the end of the year.
Brent crude fell 32 cents, or 0.4%, to $ 71.91 a barrel at 0347 GMT, after rising 4.2% in the previous session. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude fell 27 cents, or 0.4%, to $ 70.03 a barrel, after rising 4.6% on Wednesday.
“Energy volatility remains high as traders grapple with weak demand in the near term over concerns of the Delta variant and expectations that crude deficits will last until the end of the year. ‘year, ”said Edward Moya, senior analyst at OANDA.
“Oil will struggle to recoup all of its losses until the trend for further restrictions or restrictions begins to ease in Southeast Asia, Australia and Europe,” he said.
Crude inventories in the United States, the world’s largest consumer of oil, unexpectedly rose 2.1 million barrels last week to 439.7 million barrels, up for the first time since May, according to the reports. US Energy Information Administration data.
Analysts expected a drop of 4.5 million barrels.
Still, gasoline and distillate inventories posted withdrawals of 121,000 barrels and 1.3 million barrels, respectively, indicating higher demand due to the summer driving season.
With OPEC +, comprising the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies like Russia, not expected to get the deal soon and the Iranian negotiations delayed, the biggest risk to market fundamentals remains a deterioration of demand due to new virus restrictions, Citi analysts said.
“Only a really huge demand deficit would tip the market balance into a surplus,” they added.
JPMorgan analysts expect global demand to average 99.6 million barrels per day (mbd) in August, up 5.4 mbd from April.
Oil prices fell earlier this week following an OPEC + deal to increase supply by 400,000 barrels per day from August to December.