Oil Futures Settle Slightly Lower

Crude oil futures settled slightly lower on Wednesday, weighed down by data showing a sharp increase in crude oil stockpiles in the U.S. in the week ended October 4.

Concerns about near-term energy demand due to the continued surge in coronavirus in several states in the U.S., and in many countries across the world weighed as well on oil prices.

The decline in prices was just marginal as oil found support on stimulus optimism and positive updates about coronavirus vaccines.

West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for January settled at $45.52 a barrel, down $0.08 or about 0.2% from previous close.

Brent crude futures were down $0.10 or 0.2% at $48.74 a barrel.

Data released by U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) this morning showed that crude inventories in the U.S. rose by 15.2 million barrels last week, as against expectations for a 1.42 million-barrel decline.

Distillate stockpiles were up 5.2 million barrels in the week, more than 4 times the expected rise, the data showed. Meanwhile, gasoline inventories rose by 4.22 million barrels, nearly twice the expected increase.

The American Petroleum Institute (API) said on Tuesday that U.S. crude oil, gasoline and distillate stocks rose during the week ending December 4.

There was a build in crude oil inventories of 1.141 million barrels for the week, contrary to expectations for an inventory draw of 1.514 million barrels.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) has revised up global crude oil prices for 2020 and 2021.

In its Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO), the EIA expects Brent crude to average $41.43 in 2020 recording a 2.1 percent increase compared to the agency’s forecast last month. Brent oil price forecast has been revised up by 4.2 percent to $48.53 for 2021.

The White House unveiled a $916 billion Covid-19 relief bill in a final dash to break a months-long logjam over new aid for the coronavirus-stricken U.S. economy.

In a statement on Twitter, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he had talked the plan over with Republican leaders as well as Trump and the new proposal includes “money for state and local governments and robust liability protections for businesses, schools and universities.”

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