Oil prices moved between gains and losses on Wednesday as easing lockdowns encouraged investors, while a surprise build in U.S. inventories pressured prices.
Brent crude futures fell 7 cents to trade at $43.01 per barrel. West Texas Intermediate crude futures traded 3 cents lower at 440.59 per barrel.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration said Wednesday that for the week ending July 3 U.S. stockpiles rose by 5.7 million barrels. Analysts polled by FactSet had been expecting a draw of 3.2 million barrels.
Both benchmarks are set for a fourth session of daily percentage changes of less 1% in either direction.
The U.S. coronavirus outbreak crossed a grim milestone of over 3 million confirmed cases on Tuesday as more states reported record numbers of new infections.
U.S. crude oil stockpiles rose last week, although gasoline and distillate inventories fell more than expected, data from industry group the American Petroleum Institute showed.
“Yesterday’s lull in price action in the oil market is continuing this morning even as sentiment is sullied by renewed U.S. glut fears,” said PVM analysts in a note. “The search continues for a catalyst to break oil out of its range.”
The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Tuesday that U.S. crude oil production is expected to fall by 600,000 barrels per day (bpd) in 2020, a smaller decline than the 670,000 bpd it forecast previously.
Key ministers in the OPEC+ grouping of oil exporters are due to hold talks next week about the future of their record output cut deal, which is due to taper off from next month.
Abu Dhabi National Oil Co (ADNOC) plans to boost oil exports in August, the first signal that OPEC+ countries are preparing to ease output cuts, three sources familiar with the development told Reuters.
Meanwhile, Libya’s National Oil Corporation said a forced shutdown in production since January was expected to result in output dropping to 650,000 bpd in 2022 from about 1.2 million bpd achieved at the start of 2020.