Oil slips on surprise rise in US crude stocks

Melbourne - Brent crude futures similarly dropped 26 cents, or 0.5 per cent, to $55.82 a barrel.

By Reuters

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Published: Thu 21 Jan 2021, 8:17 AM

Oil prices fell on Thursday after data showed US crude stocks unexpectedly rose last week, reigniting worries about pandemic restrictions cutting into fuel demand.

US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures fell 27 cents, or 0.5 per cent, to $53.04 a barrel at 0147 GMT, following two days of gains on hopes of massive COVID-19 relief spending under new US President Joe Biden.

Brent crude futures similarly dropped 26 cents, or 0.5 per cent, to $55.82 a barrel.

US crude oil inventories rose 2.6 million barrels in the week to Jan. 15, according to data from the American Petroleum Institute, an industry group, compared with analysts’ forecasts in a Reuters poll for a fall of 1.2 million barrels.

“Oil prices look a tad vulnerable to potential profit-taking after US crude stockpiles bearishly rose 2.56 million against consensus draw,” Axi chief market strategist Stephen Innes said in a note to clients.

However gasoline stocks and distillate inventories, which include diesel, distillate and jet fuel, rose by less than analysts had expected.

The US Energy Information Administration is due to release its weekly inventory report on Friday.

Axi’s Innes said Covid restrictions on mobility were hurting the near-term outlook for oil demand, though traders had been looking beyond that on the hopes that vaccine rollouts would ease lockdowns.

“Simultaneously, the near-term China crude demand forecast looks high and susceptible to revision lower as lockdowns spread in the country ahead of the Lunar New Year,” he said.

The Biden administration has committed to curb carbon emissions and among his first actions as president, Biden announced America’s return to the Paris climate accord and revoked a permit for the Keystone XL oil pipeline project from Canada.

The administration is also committed to ending new oil and gas leasing on federal lands, Biden’s press secretary said, although Biden has not laid out a timeline for achieving that goal.

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