Oil slips as demand worries outweigh U.S. stocks draw

By Jessica Resnick-Ault NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oil prices steady on Wednesday as concerns lingered over soft U.S. fuel demand while global producers feared a second prolonged wave of the coronavirus pandemic was a major risk for the market recovery.

Reuters August 20, 2020 01:05:50 IST
Oil slips as demand worries outweigh U.S. stocks draw

Oil slips as demand worries outweigh US stocks draw

By Jessica Resnick-Ault

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oil prices steady on Wednesday as concerns lingered over soft U.S. fuel demand while global producers feared a second prolonged wave of the coronavirus pandemic was a major risk for the market recovery.

U.S. crude oil stockpiles fell 1.6 million barrels last week, while fuel demand was down 14% from the year-ago period over the last four weeks, Energy Information Administration data showed.

"The drop in gasoline demand week-over-week was a concern. That's still showing weakness," said Phil Flynn, a senior analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago. "The only thing that is holding us back is demand," he said.

Brent crude futures settled at $45.37 a barrel, down 9 cents.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude ended 4 cents higher at $42.93 a barrel, getting a late boost after Federal Reserve board minutes were released. The U.S. central bank is considering policy tweaks that could sustain aggressive stimulus measures.

Global oil demand should recover to pre-pandemic levels as soon as the fourth quarter, the Saudi Energy minister said, while urging compliance with a global deal to cut output.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies such as Russia, a grouping dubbed OPEC+, began a meeting on Wednesday to review the compliance levels with the deal, aimed at supporting prices. .

"Based on the average projections of various institutions, ... it is estimated that the world will reach about 97% of pre-pandemic oil demand during the fourth quarter - which is a big recovery from the huge falls in April and May," said Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman.

A draft OPEC+ statement, seen by Reuters, said a second prolonged wave of the pandemic was a major risk for the oil market recovery.

OPEC+ sources have said the group was unlikely to change on Wednesday its output policy, which currently calls for reducing output by 7.7 million barrels per day (bpd) versus a record high 9.7 million bpd up until this month.

(Reporting by Yuka Obayashi in Tokyo i and Dmitry Zhdannikov in London; Editing by Marguerita Choy and Mark Potter)

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