Oil steady as inventories miss forecasts

Oil steady as inventories miss forecasts

SINGAPORE Oil prices were steady on Thursday after U.S. crude stocks went down less than expected, while investors waited for more clarity on supply drivers, including an OPEC meeting and the EU ban on Russian refined products.

The price of crude oil fell 4 cents, or 0.1 per cent, to $86.08 per barrel by 0400 GMT, while the U.S. West Texas Intermediate WTI crude futures rose 18 cents, or 0.2 per cent, to $80.33.

In a note Thursday, Citi analysts said that the market is waiting for more clarity on the upcoming EU embargo on Russian refined products and the subsequent reshuffle of trade flows, while OPEC delegates head into their next meeting.

The EU embargo on Russian refined products is a major source of concern for the market, with widespread dislocations expected to occur, according to Citi analysts.

Oil prices were little changed after data showed a build in U.S. crude inventories was less than expected.

In the week ending January 20, crude inventories went up by 533,000 barrels to 448.5 million barrels, the Energy Information Administration EIA said.

The EIA said that was significantly short of the forecasts for a 1 million barrel rise, although crude stocks are at their highest since June 2021.

The rise in inventories resulted in price gains as it reflected a softer fuel demand, on top of the concerns of a slowing global economy.

According to a poll of economists, the greater risk is a further downgrade to their view, as global economic growth is projected to barely move above 2 per cent this year. Since the beginning of the year, optimism has been at odds with that.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, OPEC, are likely to endorse the group's current output levels at a Feb. 1 meeting, according to sources from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.