Key points:

  • Oil prices fell after U.S. crude inventories rose more than expected.
  • Concerns about slow demand and the possibility of higher interest rates in the US also weighed on prices.
  • US crude oil inventories increased by 4.2 million barrels to 447.2 million barrels.

On Thursday, the decline in oil prices was prompted by a greater-than-anticipated increase in U.S. crude inventories, raising worries about a sluggish demand. Furthermore, the heightened likelihood of sustained high-interest rates in the United States has added pressure on commodities.

Dynamics of Brent and WTI

In the latest market movements, April Brent crude futures experienced a decrease of 43 cents, equivalent to 0.5%, settling at $83.25 per barrel. This followed a marginal 3-cent increase in the previous session. Notably, the April contract is set to expire on Thursday, while the more actively traded May contract saw a decline of 33 cents, reaching $81.82.

As for U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures, they recorded a dip of 26 cents, representing a 0.3% decrease, and closed at $78.28 per barrel.

Despite a succession of sessions witnessing declines, Brent managed to conclude the month with nearly a 2% gain, marking its second consecutive monthly increase. Similarly, WTI also saw its second consecutive monthly rise, with a gain of approximately 3% in February.

US oil reserves continue to rise

U.S. crude oil inventories rose while gasoline and distillate inventories fell last week as refineries operated below seasonal lows due to planned and unplanned shutdowns, the Energy Information Administration said Wednesday.

Crude oil inventories rose for the fifth straight week, rising 4.2 million barrels to 447.2 million barrels in the week ended February 23. Analysts had expected an increase of 2.7 million barrels.

Traders are waiting for statistical data

Expectations for a reduction in US interest rates have been revised by traders in light of robust data, such as strong Consumer Price Index (CPI) and Producer Price Index (PPI) figures. The anticipated initiation of the easing cycle has shifted from the initial projection of March 2024 to June, reflecting the impact of favorable economic indicators.

Now, market participants are eagerly awaiting the release of the US Personal Consumer Expenditures Price Index, a key measure of inflation monitored by the Federal Reserve. This index, scheduled for Thursday, is predicted to reveal a 0.3% month-on-month increase in prices for January, providing additional cues for trading decisions.