Oil prices flat as coronavirus fears dwarf U.S. crude stocks lift

Oil prices flat as coronavirus fears dwarf U.S. crude stocks lift

Oil prices were generally flat on Thursday as the unexpected support from U.S. crude stocks that lifted the market to five-month highs in the last session yielded to fuel demand fears amid surging COVID-19 cases.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures fell 0.1%, or 3 cents, at $42.16 per barrel. Brent crude futures climbed 0.2%, or 9 cents, at $45.25 per barrel.

Both benchmarks gained over 1% on Wednesday to their highest since early March after four straight days of rally as the Energy Information Administration posted a bigger-than-expected decline in U.S. crude inventories. 

Still, investors are wary of rising U.S. refined product stockpiles when U.S. central bankers said that the coronavirus resurgence is stalling economic recovery.

Data showed that distillate inventories including diesel and heating oil rose to a 38-year high, while gasoline stocks unexpectedly climbed for the second straight week.

Exports say that gasoline demand stays at 8.6 million bpd, which is 10% lower year-on-year. Still, the dollar’s weakness in recent days supported higher oil prices.

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