SYDNEY/SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Oil prices declined on Thursday amid lingering concerns over slowing global economic growth that may limit fuel demand and after a surprise build in U.S. crude inventories.
FILE PHOTO: Oil takners pass through the Strait of Hormuz, December 21, 2018. REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed/File Photo
International Brent crude oil futures LCOc1 were at $60.89 a barrel at 0352 GMT, down 25 cents, or 0.4 percent, from their last settlement, having closed down 0.6 percent in the previous session.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures CLc1 were at $52.40 per barrel, 22 cents lower from their last settlement.
“Crude oil came under further pressure as concerns of faltering global growth remained at the forefront in investor’s minds,” ANZ Bank said.
The prospects of future oil demand are getting clouded by the global growth worries, analysts said.
“With the IMF downgrading 2019/20 and the continued rhetoric from Davos reiterating that they expect global growth to slow down over the next two years, is providing selling pressure in oil,” said Hue Frame, portfolio manager at Frame Funds in Sydney.
Earlier this week, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) cut its world economic growth forecasts for 2019 and 2020, due to weakness in Europe and some emerging markets.
Meanwhile, world leaders and top executives are meeting in Davos, Switzerland, this week to discuss how to steer policy amid worries of slowing economic growth, damaging trade wars and Brexit.
Oil market sentiment was also weakened by an increase in U.S. crude inventories after refineries cut output, data from industry group the American Petroleum Institute showed on Wednesday.
Crude inventories rose by 6.6 million barrels in the week ended Jan. 18 to 443.6 million, compared with analysts’ expectations for a decrease of 42,000 barrels, the API said. Refinery runs fell by 152,000 barrels per day.
“Sharp production cuts by OPEC+ have kept crude oil futures supported however as market reports indicate for a marked output reduction in Dec 2018,” said Benjamin Lu, analyst at Phillip Futures.
“Though oil prices have demonstrated for higher upside potential in the first quarter of 2019, mounting economic challenges will continue to impede exponential gains in the longer term,” Lu added.
Reporting by Koustav Samanta in SINGAPORE and Colin Packham in SYDNEY; editing by Richard Pullin and Christian Schmollinger