Oil prices were slightly down on Thursday over lingering demand concerns, as hopes for an economic recovery boosted by the vast vaccine campaigns were put on hold after confusing results about the efficacy of the vaccines.
International benchmark Brent crude was trading at $56.02 per barrel at 06 GMT for a 0.07% rise after closing Wednesday at $56.06 a barrel.
American benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) traded at $52.90 per barrel at the same time for a 0.02% increase after it ended the previous session at $52.91 a barrel.
Oil prices recorded a limited decline after countries report different rates on the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech.
Several countries, including Indonesia, Turkey and Singapore, have placed orders for the vaccine.
While Brazil said the Chinese vaccine CoronaVac has an efficacy rate of just over 50%, the results in Turkey showed that the vaccine is 91.25% effective.
Adding to the downward trend in oil prices, the Federal Reserve's Beige Book that gauges economic conditions dashed hopes brought by the arrival of the vaccines and increased uncertainties.
“Although the prospect of COVID-19 vaccines has bolstered business optimism for 2021 growth, this has been tempered by concern over the recent virus resurgence and the implications for near-term business conditions,” the report said.
However, a large drawdown in US crude oil inventories last week capped further price declines.
Commercial crude oil inventories in the US dropped by 3.2 million barrels last week, relative to the market expectation of a 2.7 million-barrel draw.
Investors are now focusing on expectations of greater economic support in the US coronavirus relief package later on Thursday, when President-elect Joe Biden is expected to announce details of his pledge to give “trillions of dollars” after he takes office on Jan. 20.
By Sibel Morrow