(MENAFN- Trend News Agency)
Oil prices were broadly steady on Thursday as the prospect of
higher fuel demand in China as it reopens post-COVID curbs was
offset by fears that U.S. crude stocks hitting their highest for
months may signal weakening demand in the world's no. 1 economy,
trend reports with
reference to reuters .
Brent crude futures gained 1 cent to $85.10 a barrel by 0446
GMT, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures fell 3
cents to $78.44 a barrel. Both benchmarks have gained more than 6%
so far this week.
'U.S. crude oil ... inventories have continued to exceed
expectations, which to some extent erodes the bullish sentiments
brought from China's demand recovery hopes,' said analysts from
Crude oil stocks in the United States rose last week to their
highest since June 2021, helped by higher production, the Energy
Information Administration said on Wednesday. U.S. gasoline and
distillate inventories also rose last week as demand remained
Federal Reserve officials on Wednesday said more interest rate
rises are in the cards as the U.S. central bank presses forward
with its efforts to cool inflation, although none were ready to
suggest that January's hot jobs report could push them back to a
more aggressive monetary policy stance.
But the prospect of stronger demand from China lent support to
oil prices, as the world's second-largest oil consumer ended more
than three years of stringent zero-COVID policy involving city-wide
lockdowns and mass testing in December.
'Travel has increased sharply in China following the Lunar New
Year holidays. We expect Chinese oil consumption to increase by
around 1.0 million barrels a day this year, with strong growth
emerging as early as late in Q1,' said Daniel Hynes and Soni
Kumari, analysts from ANZ bank in a note on Thursday.
'Overall, this should push global demand up by 2.1 million
barrels a day in 2023.'
Meanwhile, BP Azerbaijan declared force majeure on Azeri crude
shipments from the Turkish port of Ceyhan on Feb.7 after a massive
earthquake struck Turkey and Syria early on Monday. The disaster
had halted operations at Ceyhan and disrupted crude oil flows from
Iraq and Azerbaijan.
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