Home Commodities Oil prices steady after U.S. stockpiles swell

Oil prices steady after U.S. stockpiles swell


LONDON, Feb 9 (Reuters) – Oil prices were steady on Thursday, as optimism over recovering Chinese demand was offset by U.S. oil inventories hitting their highest in months and signs the U.S. Federal Reserve could keep raising interest rates.

Brent crude futures dipped 12 cents to $84.97 a barrel by 1227 GMT, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures inched down 15 cents to $78.32 a barrel. Both benchmarks have gained over 6% so far this week.

“Relentlessly rising U.S. commercial inventories and potentially entrenched inflation limit any immediate upside potential,” said PVM analyst Tamas Varga.

He said recovering Chinese demand and falling inflation were set to support oil prices in the second half of the year.

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.

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U.S. gasoline and distillate inventories also rose last week. read more

U.S. Federal Reserve officials said more interest rate rises are on the cards as the bank presses forward with its efforts to cool inflation, sending bearish signals across risk assets like oil and equities. read more GLOB/MKTS

But the prospect of stronger demand from China lent some support to oil prices, as the world’s second-largest oil consumer ended more than three years of stringent zero-COVID policy.

“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,” analysts from ANZ bank wrote in a note.

“Overall, this should push global demand up by 2.1 million barrels a day in 2023.”

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. Azeri oil continues to flow there via pipeline, BP Azerbaijan said on Thursday.

Brent’s front-month loading contract rose to a $3-a-barrel premium over contracts six months out, a market structure called backwardation, which indicates traders seeing tight current supply.

Additional reporting by Muyu Xu; editing by Bernadette Baum and Jason Neely

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Shadia Nasralla

Thomson Reuters

Writes about the intersection of corporate oil and climate policy. Has reported on politics, economics, migration, nuclear diplomacy and business from Cairo, Vienna and elsewhere.

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