Oil prices rise amid hopes for fuel demand

Pavel Ignatov  Adobe Stock

Pavel Ignatov Adobe Stock

Oil prices were supported by data showing Chinese crude imports rose last month.

Nonetheless, with Australia on Friday becoming the latest country to enact an easing of lockdowns, and France, parts of the USA and Pakistan planning to ease restrictions, Brent settled up $1.51, or 5.1 percent, at $30.97 per barrel, while West Texas Intermediate gained $1.19, or 5 percent, to $24.74 per barrel.

WTI with delivery in June increased by 5.9% and trading at $20,9.

Oil rose above $31 a barrel on Wednesday as hopes for a recovery in demand as some countries ease coronavirus lockdowns offset a report showing a higher-than-expected rise in U.S. inventories.

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"The road to rebalancing the oversupplied market is starting to happen", said Phil Flynn at Price Futures in Chicago.

In corporate news, Noble Energy said that its loss widened in the latest quarter and that it would reduce expenses and oil production in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

USA output cuts and the slow return of activity in Europe lent further support.

US crude inventories at the Cushing storage hub in Oklahoma rose by about 407,000 barrels in the week through May 5, traders said citing Genscape data.

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USA oil futures were up 75 cents, or 3.2 percent, at $24.30 a barrel, after declining almost 2 percent the previous day.

Saudi Arabia increased its official selling prices for June after cutting May exports to nearly the lowest in a decade following a deal by global producers to reduce output to prop up prices.

Crude prices snapped their five-day winning streak on Wednesday as USA inventories swelled for a 15th consecutive week.

"It is. likely seen as a strong indication that the Kingdom will follow through on its pledged supply cuts agreed at the 12 April OPEC+ emergency meeting", Harry Tchilinguirian, head of commodity research at BNP Paribas, said. Imports climbed to 10.42 million barrels day (bpd) in April from 9.68 million bpd in March, according to Reuters calculations based on customs data for the first four months of 2020.

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The US' crude oil production declined by 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) to around 11.9 million bpd for the week ending May 1, according to the Energy Information Administration.

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