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Markets

Oil rises on lower US stocks, firmer demand

Brent crude futures were up 63 cents, or 1.8%, at $35.28 per barrel at 1:20 p.m. ET (1720 GMT) while July US crude
20 May 2020
  • Brent crude futures were up 63 cents, or 1.8%, at $35.28 per barrel at 1:20 p.m. ET (1720 GMT) while July US crude futures were up 91 cents, or 2.9%, at $32.87 a barrel.
  • The WTI June contract expired on Tuesday, up 2.1%, avoiding the chaos of May expiry, when prices sank well below zero, as US storage filled rapidly.
  • We need to see more signs that rebalancing is taking place, primarily through more demand," said Gene McGillian

NEW YORK: Oil prices climbed more than 2% on Wednesday on signs of improving demand and a drawdown in US crude inventories, but gains were capped by worries over the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic and weak refining margins.

Brent crude futures were up 63 cents, or 1.8%, at $35.28 per barrel at 1:20 p.m. ET (1720 GMT) while July US crude futures were up 91 cents, or 2.9%, at $32.87 a barrel. Both benchmarks rose more than 5% during the session.

The WTI June contract expired on Tuesday, up 2.1%, avoiding the chaos of May expiry, when prices sank well below zero, as US storage filled rapidly.

US crude inventories fell by 5 million barrels last week, Energy Information Administration data showed, while Cushing, Oklahoma, stocks dropped by 5.6 million barrels.

"What this report confirms is that your worse nightmare - that we're going to run out of storage space - is probably not going to happen," said Phil Flynn, senior analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago.

Fuel demand has grown as lockdown curbs have eased worldwide, and initial shipping data show strong compliance with production cuts from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies.

But weak crude refining profits could delay a recovery in demand. Refiners hope the easing of lockdowns will boost buying.

US gasoline and distillate inventories rose last week, EIA data showed.

"We need to see more signs that rebalancing is taking place, primarily through more demand," said Gene McGillian, director of market research at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut.

Lingering concerns about the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, especially in the United States, the world's biggest oil consumer, kept a lid on gains.

"Unless there is a major event that will turn the table in the supply-balance relationship (such as a new OPEC decision or more extended cuts, possible new lockdowns that affect demand), we expect prices to stay around the current levels," said Rystad Energy's senior oil markets analyst Paola Rodriguez Masiu.