Covid Concerns, Weaker Dollar Keep Oil Prices Flat

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Oil prices were little changed on Thursday as a falling dollar and rising stock markets offset earlier declines caused by a big increase in US gasoline stockpiles and subdued demand compared with pre-pandemic levels. Brent futures rose 4¢ to settle at $63.20 per barrel, while US benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) ended 17¢, or 0.3%, lower at $59.60/bbl. "Crude prices are struggling for direction as short-term Covid-19 pressures are countered by a much weaker US dollar," said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at OANDA in New York. The US dollar fell to a two-week low against a basket of currencies, tracking Treasury yields lower, after data showed a surprise rise in US weekly jobless claims. A weaker dollar makes oil cheaper for holders of other currencies, which usually helps boost crude prices. The S&P 500, meanwhile, hit a record high and the Nasdaq was at a seven-week peak, helped by gains in tech-related stocks, a day after the Federal Reserve reiterated its pledge to remain ultra-dovish until the economic recovery is more secure. US gasoline inventories rose sharply by 4 million barrels to a little more than 230 million bbl last week as refiners ramped up output before the summer driving season, the US Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday (IOD Apr.7'21). "A huge build in road fuel stocks is not what the market was expecting and concerns over the speed of the oil demand recovery resurfaced, leaving traders wondering how stable road fuel usage actually is," said Rystad Energy analyst Bjornar Tonhaugen. Russia said the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic on the global consumption of oil may last until 2023-24, according to a draft government document seen by Reuters. While oil demand remains weakened by the impact of the coronavirus, crude production looks set to rise. Last week, the Opec-plus coalition agreed to bring back about 2 million barrels per day of production over the next three months (IOD Apr.1'21). Iran and the US held talks with other powers on reviving a nuclear deal that almost stopped Iranian oil from coming to market, reviving tentative hopes Tehran might see some sanctions lifted and add to global supplies (IOD Apr.6'21). Data intelligence firm Kpler said the US-Iran negotiations provide potential for 2 million b/d in additional oil supply if a deal is struck. Reuters

Oil Demand, Oil Inventories, Oil Supply, Crude Oil
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