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Oil prices were mixed on Thursday as the market struggled to digest signs of strong gasoline demand in the US, the world’s biggest consumer of the fuel, with a statement from oil producers that they are putting more crude on the market.
Brent crude futures fell 11 cents, or 0.2 percent, to $72.79 a barrel at 0401 GMT. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures climbed 6 cents, or 0.1 percent, to $68.82.
Both benchmarks rose by 1 percent on Wednesday after inventory data from the US Energy Information Administration reported on Wednesday US gasoline stockpiles fell along with supplies of distillate fuels. Motor fuel demand also rose from the week before and was up from a year earlier. However, the EIA also reported US oil production reached a record 11 million barrels per day (bpd). The US has added nearly 1 million bpd in production since November, thanks to rapid increases in shale drilling.
Also, a meeting of members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and non-OPEC producer monitoring their supply pact reported on Wednesday that compliance with the agreement has declined, meaning more oil is available to the market. The bullish tone sparked by the gasoline data is unlikely to last, said Stephen Innes, head of trading APAC at brokerage OANDA. “President Trump is doing everything in his power to lower gasoline prices,” he said.
“With Russia quick to offer the President a supply olive branch and Saudi Arabia mainly in his back pocket when it comes to increasing their supply, its challenging to see (the) gasoline numbers turning the bearish market’s tide,” he said.
Gasoline inventories fell by 3.2 million barrels last week, while distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, dropped by 371,000 barrels, the EIA said on Wednesday.
A Reuters poll taken before the data release had forecast that gasoline stocks would be unchanged and distillate stockpiles would show a build of around 900,000 barrels.
A sharp jump in crude oil inventories in the US also added to the bearish tone in the market. US crude stocks rose by 5.8 million barrels last week, compared with a forecast of a decline of 3.6 million barrels.
Oil markets have fallen over the last week as Saudi Arabia and other members OPEC member and Russia have increased production and as some supply disruptions have eased.
OPEC and non-OPEC’s compliance with oil output curbs has declined to around 120 percent in June from 147 percent in May, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters on Wednesday.
Saudi Arabia’s energy minister held talks Monday with US Energy Secretary Rick Perry, after the Kingdom and its allies defied US pressure to cut oil production in a bid to prop up prices.
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