Oil prices fell on Thursday, pressured by concerns economic weakness in the United States and Europe would cut demand, but prices seesawed as the market also considered tight supply.
Brent crude futures were down 79 cents, or 0.8 percent, to $95.99 a barrel by 1404 GMT, while West Texas Intermediate (WTI)
crude futures fell 43 cents, a 0.4 percent decline, at $90.23.
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Both benchmarks fell on Wednesday to their weakest levels since before Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine, that Moscow calls “a special operation.” And WTI futures touched their lowest on Thursday since mid-February.
The selling followed an unexpected surge in US crude inventories last week. Gasoline stocks, the proxy for demand, also showed a surprise build as demand slowed, the Energy Information Administration said.
The demand outlook remains clouded by increasing worries about an economic slump in the United States and Europe, debt distress in emerging market economies, and a strict zero COVID-19 policy in China, the world’s largest oil importer.
Further pressure followed fears that rising interest rates could slow economic activity and limit demand for fuel. The Bank of England (BoE) raised rates on Thursday and warned about recession risks.
An OPEC+ agreement on Wednesday to raise its output target by just 100,000 barrels per day (bpd) in September, equivalent to 0.1 percent of global demand, was viewed by some analysts as bearish for the market.
“The largely symbolic increase will obviously not provide a significant buffer to any potential supply shock, but the oil balance will not get tighter either,” Tamas Varga of oil brokerage PVM said.
OPEC heavyweights Saudi Arabia and the UAE are ready to deliver a “significant increase” in oil output should the world face a severe supply crisis this winter, sources familiar with the thinking of the top Gulf exporters said.
Analysts still expect the limited spare capacity of OPEC+ -- highlighted in a statement on Wednesday -- to support prices longer term.
“Crude prices should find strong support around the $90 level and eventually will rebound towards the $100 barrel level even as the global economic slowdown accelerates,” Edward Moya, senior analyst with OANDA.
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