Oil prices fall as U.S. fuel demand remains weak


An aerial view of oil tankers anchored near the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles amid the coronavirus pandemic on April 28, 2020 off the coast of Long Beach, California.

Mario Tama | Getty Images

Oil prices edged lower on Friday after U.S.inventory data showed lackluster fuel demand in the world’s largest oil consumer while worsening U.S.-China tensions weighed on global financial markets.

Brent crude slipped 36 cents, or 1%, to $34.93 a barrel by 0106 GMT and U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude was at $33.20 a barrel, down 51 cents, or 1.5%. Still, both contracts are set for a fifth weekly gain, helped by production cuts and optimism about demand recovery in other countries.

Thursday’s data from the Energy Information Administration showed that U.S. crude oil and distillate inventories rose sharply last week. Fuel demand remained slack even as various states lifted travel restrictions they had imposed to curb the coronavirus pandemic, analysts said.

“Memorial Day weekend did not bring U.S. motorists out in droves like many market bulls were hoping,” RBC Capital Markets analyst Christopher Louney said in a note.

Looking ahead, traders will be focusing on the outcome of talks on output cuts between members of OPEC+, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and allies including Russia, in the second week of June.

Saudi Arabia and some OPEC members are considering extending record production cuts of 9.7 million barrels per day beyond June, but have yet to win support from Russia.

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