Oil steadies but gains capped by European lockdowns, crude stock build
Oil prices steadied on Wednesday following Tuesday’s slump, but gains were capped by fears of a slow demand recovery amid fresh lockdowns in Europe and a build in U.S. crude inventories.
Brent crude futures climbed 0.1%, or 8 cents, at $60.87 per barrel after plunging 5.9% to $60.50 on Tuesday.
West Texas Intermediate crude futures rose 0.1%, or 8 cents, at $57.84 per barrel. It lost 6.2% to a low of $57.32 on Tuesday.
Both contracts hit their lowest levels since February on Tuesday and have dropped almost 15% from their recent highs this month.
Germany, Europe’s largest oil consumer, extended its lockdown to April 18. Concerns about slow pandemic recovery also rose after a U.S. health agency said that the development of the AstraZeneca Plc vaccine may have contained outdated information in its data.
Adding to the pressure, U.S. crude oil stocks rose by 2.9 million barrels in the week ended March 19, contrary to analysts’ expectations for a 300,000-barrel drawdown.
Gasoline stocks dropped by 3.7 million barrels, contrary to expectations for a 1.2-million-barrel build.