Crude oil prices rose Thursday after the U.S. government reported a much smaller-than-anticipated rise in crude inventories, Kallanish Energy reports.
Gains, however, were held down by continuing worries about the spread of the Coronavirus outside China.
The Energy Information Administration reported yesterday crude inventories rose only 414,000 barrels for the week ended Feb. 14, compared with expectations in a Reuters poll of an increase of 2.5 million barrels.
However, numerous new coronavirus cases and a first death from the virus in South Korea raised fears of a global pandemic, and kept the proverbial lid on price increases.
Brent crude rose 19 cents, or 0.3%, to $59.31 per barrel. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures gained 49 cents, or 0.9%, to settle at $53.78/Bbl. Immediately after the EIA data, Brent front month, front month WTI and second month WTI touched their highest prices in February.
China’s move to cut its benchmark lending rate helped ease some worries about slowing demand in the world’s second-biggest oil consumer and largest crude oil importer.
Also supporting oil prices were U.S. sanctions this week on a trading unit of Russian oil giant Rosneft for its ties with Venezuela’s state-run PDVSA, and conflict in Libya that has led to a blockade of its ports and oilfields.
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