NEW YORK: Oil prices steady on Wednesday as concerns lingered over soft U.S. fuel demand while global producers feared a second prolonged wave of the coronavirus pandemic was a major risk for the market recovery.
U.S. crude oil stockpiles fell 1.6 million barrels last week, while fuel demand was down 14% from the year-ago period over the last four weeks, Energy Information Administration data showed.
"The drop in gasoline demand week-over-week was a concern. That's still showing weakness," said Phil Flynn, a senior analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago. "The only thing that is holding us back is demand," he said.
Brent crude futures settled at US$45.37 a barrel, down 9 cents.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude ended 4 cents higher at $42.93 a barrel, getting a late boost after Federal Reserve board minutes were released.
The U.S. central bank is considering policy tweaks that could sustain aggressive stimulus measures.
Global oil demand should recover to pre-pandemic levels as soon as the fourth quarter, the Saudi Energy minister said, while urging compliance with a global deal to cut output.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies such as Russia, a grouping dubbed OPEC+, began a meeting on Wednesday to review the compliance levels with the deal, aimed at supporting prices..
"Based on the average projections of various institutions, ... it is estimated that the world will reach about 97% of pre-pandemic oil demand during the fourth quarter - which is a big recovery from the huge falls in April and May," said Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman.
A draft OPEC+ statement, seen by Reuters, said a second prolonged wave of the pandemic was a major risk for the oil market recovery.
OPEC+ sources have said the group was unlikely to change on Wednesday its output policy, which currently calls for reducing output by 7.7 million barrels per day (bpd) versus a record high 9.7 million bpd up until this month.- Reuters
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