NEW YORK (Reuters) – Oil prices edged up on Wednesday, supported by U.S. government data showing crude inventories fell last week and optimism about a coronavirus relief program in states -United.
Brent futures rose 32 cents to $ 51.08 a barrel. US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures rose 20 cents to $ 47.82 per barrel.
US crude inventories fell 3.1 million barrels in the week to Dec.11, the Energy Information Administration said. Analysts had expected a decline of 1.9 million barrels after inventories jumped in last week’s data.
“We couldn’t afford to have a build after last week,” said Bob Yawger, director of energy futures at Mizuho. “An American stimulus plan appears to be underway, which will also be favorable.”
U.S. Congressional leaders have said substantial progress has been made during the months-long standoff over coronavirus relief and a fundraising bill to avoid government shutdown.
U.S. oil demand is down about 13% year-to-date due to the coronavirus pandemic, and Wednesday’s retail sales figures showed a second consecutive month of lower spending due of a resurgence of COVID-19 cases.
Global demand has been weak, with the most notable rebound occurring in China. The International Energy Agency (IEA) warned on Tuesday that it will take some time to reverse the collapse in global demand for oil during the pandemic.
The IEA has revised downward its estimates of oil demand this year to 50,000 barrels per day (b / d) and 170,000 b / d for next year, citing reduced kerosene consumption because fewer people travel by air.
In Europe, Germany entered a strict lockdown on Wednesday as the number of recorded deaths from COVID-19 rose by the largest daily increase to date.
Reporting by Stephanie Kelly in New York with additional reporting by Jessica Jaganathan and Julia Payne; Edited by David Gregorio and Mark Heinrich