Oil prices were steady on Wednesday as concerns about lower fuel
demand from China amid tightening COVID-19 curbs offset data
showing a larger-than-expected U.S. crude draw last week, trend reports with reference to reuters .
Brent crude futures dropped 15 cents, or 0.2%, to $88.21 a
barrel at 0508 GMT, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude
futures lost 9 cents, or 0.1%, to $80.86 a barrel.
Both benchmark contracts rose about 1% on Tuesday as the United
Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Iraq and Algeria reinforced comments from
Saudi Arabia's energy minister that the Organization of the
Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and allies, together called
OPEC+, were not considering boosting oil output. OPEC+ next meets
to review output on Dec. 4.
Meanwhile, top crude oil importer China has been grappling with
a surge in COVID-19 cases that has deepened worries about its
Late on Tuesday, financial hub Shanghai tightened rules for
people entering the city while Beijing shut parks and museums.
'Oil is having a tug-of-war with China COVID demand concerns
getting countered with what appears to be a motivated Saudi Arabia
to keep the oil market tight,' said Edward Moya, senior market
analyst with OANDA, in a note.
Traders are also being cautious ahead of the release of the U.S.
Federal Reserve's minutes from its November policy meeting due at
1900 GMT, CMC Markets analyst Tina Teng said.
'The Fed is expected to signal a slowdown in rate hikes but any
surprising hawkish reiteration will weigh on sentiment, lifting the
U.S. dollar and pressuring commodity prices,' Teng added.
Underpinning oil prices on Wednesday, U.S. crude inventories
fell by about 4.8 million barrels for the week ended Nov. 18, data
from the American Petroleum Institute showed, according to market
Analysts polled by Reuters on average had expected a 1.1 million
barrel drawdown in crude inventories.
Distillate stocks, which include heating oil and jet fuel, rose
by about 1.1 million barrels compared with analysts' expectations
for a drop of 600,000 barrels.
Uncertainty over how Russia will respond to plans by the Group
of Seven (G7) nations to cap Russian oil prices also provided some
support to the market.
The price cap is due to be announced soon, a senior U.S.
Treasury official said on Tuesday, adding that it will probably be
adjusted a few times a year.
'Traders closely monitor Russia's exports and will look for how
much they might trim the nation's foreign sales in retaliation,
which could be a bullish fillip for oil prices,' SPI Asset
Management managing partner Stephen Innes said in a note.
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