Oil prices slip on demand worries, prospect of Libyan supply return
Brent crude futures for September fell 17 cents, or 0.2 per cent, to $41.68 a barrel, paring Monday's 92-cent gain. - Reuters
Melbourne - Brent holds above $41, WTI stuck below $40.
Oil prices fell on Tuesday as optimism for a straightforward recovery in fuel demand faded and a looming increase in supply weighed on the market, with Libya's state oil company flagging progress on talks to resume exports.
USWest Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures fell as much as 44 cents, but recovered slightly after stronger-than-expected Chinese factory data. By 0201 GMT they were trading down 26 cents, or 0.7 per cent, at $39.44 a barrel, having jumped 3 per cent on Monday.
Brent crude futures for September fell 17 cents, or 0.2 per cent, to $41.68 a barrel, paring Monday's 92-cent gain. The less active August contract, which expires on Tuesday, fell 25 cents after gaining 69 cents on Monday.
Optimism on Monday had been based on strong growth in US pending home sales, bolstering belief that global fuel demand is rising steadily as major economies reopen after coronavirus lockdowns.
But at the same time, coronavirus cases continue to rise in southern and southwestern US states.
"It's really difficult to say that demand is a one-way street. There are still plenty of risks going both ways," said Vivek Dhar, mining and energy commodities analyst at Commonwealth Bank of Australia.
Bulls will be looking for more signs of a demand recovery in data due on Tuesday from the American Petroleum Institute industry group, and from the US government on Wednesday.
A preliminary Reuters poll showed analysts expect UScrude oil stockpiles fell from record highs last week and gasoline inventories decreased for a third straight week.
On the supply side, investors are watching to see whether Libya, which can produce about 1per cent of global oil supply, is able to resume exports, blockaded since January amid a civil war.
Libya's National Oil Corp (NOC) said on Monday it was making progress on talks with neighbouring countries to lift the blockade. - Reuters