Crufe oil prices dropped Wednesday after Brent crude hit a 2019 high above $72 a barrel, supported by steady economic growth in China and data showing U.S. crude inventories fell last week.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures settled 29 cents lower, at $63.76 per barrel, down 0.5%, but settling not far from last week’s 2019 closing high of $64.61/Bbl, Kallanish Energy reports.
International benchmark Brent crude fell 10 cents, to $71.62/Bbl, after earlier Wednesday touching $72.27/Bbl — the highest price since Nov. 8.
U.S. crude inventories fell by 1.4 million barrels (Mmbbl) during the week ended April 12, compared with analysts’ expectations for an increase of 1.7 Mmbbl, according to a Reuters survey.
Crude remained supported by economic growth in China. The country’s economy grew by 6.4% in the first quarter, official data showed, helping to ease queasiness in global markets, even as a U.S.-China trade deal also appears near.
Refinery throughput in China, which trails only the U.S. as a crude user, rose 3.2% in March from a year earlier.
Prices have been supported in 2019 by action taken by Opec+, the group of producer nations that includes most of Opec, along with a number of non-Opec countries led by Russia. The group agreed late in 2018 to cut their 2019 oil output by 1.2 million barrels per day through June.
Global supply has been tightened further by U.S. sanctions on Opec members Venezuela and Iran. Crude exports from Iran have dropped thus far in April to the lowest daily level this year, tanker data showed and industry sources told Reuters, suggesting a drawdown in buyer interest ahead of expected further pressure from Washington.
In June, Opec+ will decide whether to continue to cut production, although Russia has made it known it is not in favor of a deal continuance.
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