Oil prices slipped on Wednesday with forecasts of a buildup in US crude inventories that investors view as a decrease in US crude demand.
International benchmark Brent crude was trading at $41.48 per barrel at 0543 GMT for a 0.57% decrease after closing Thursday at $41.72 a barrel.
American benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) was at $39.50 a barrel at the same time for a 0.10% decrease after ending the previous session at $39.54 per barrel.
Late Wednesday, the American Petroleum Institute (API) announced its estimate of a rise of 691,000 barrels in US crude oil inventories relative to the market expectation of a 2.3 million-barrel draw.
If crude stocks increase in line with the API’s expectation, this would signal that crude demand is falling in the US, the world's largest oil consumer, and as a result, push prices lower.
Fresh restrictions due to the increase in coronavirus cases, especially in European countries such as the UK, France, Germany and Spain, supported negative, oil demand estimates and the global economic recovery, while also suppressing oil prices.
Additionally, the resumption of Libya’s oil exports after an eight-month blockade on the country’s oil ports and facilities, which will bring approximately 1 million barrels of crude oil to the market, boosts oversupply concerns and fuels oil price declines.
The number of COVID-19 cases worldwide is now over 31.6 million, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University.
As the US leads the number of cases with over 6.8 million as of Wednesday morning, India has over 5.6 million, and Brazil follows with more than 4.9 million cases.
By Sibel Morrow