MELBOURNE: Oil prices fell on Wednesday after an industry report showed an unexpected build-up in U.S. oil inventories last week, which heightened worries about a resurgence in COVID-19 infections potentially dampening fuel demand.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures dropped 35 cents, or 0.5%, to $66.85 a barrel at 0153 GMT, after rising $1 on Tuesday.
Brent crude futures fell 32 cents, or 0.5%, to $69.03 a barrel, giving up some of Tuesday’s 1.1% gain.
The market “has come under a bit of downward pressure in early morning trading today after a bearish and rather surprising inventory report from the API,” ING Economics analysts said in a note referring to weekly figures from the American Petroleum Institute.
U.S. crude stocks rose by 806,000 barrels for the week that ended July 16, according to two market sources, citing American Petroleum Institute figures.
By comparison, 10 analysts polled by Reuters had estimated, on average, that crude stocks fell by about 4.5 million barrels.
Investors are awaiting data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration to see whether it confirms there was an increase in crude inventories, which would end an eight-week streak of inventory drawdowns.
“The price moves today and potentially tomorrow will be driven by U.S. oil stocks data, but the biggest thematic will be the OPEC+ deal to add 400,000 barrels per day a month versus whether demand will hold up given what we’re seeing on the Delta variant,” Dhar said.
A deal by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies, together known as OPEC+, to boost supply by 400,000 bpd each month from August through December sparked an oil price sell off on Monday, exacerbated by demand fears with cases of the Delta variant of the coronavirus picking up in major markets like the United States, Britain and Japan.