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Oil Prices Rise on Strong China Data and U.S. Crude Oil Pull

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SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Oil prices edged up on Thursday after US crude inventories fell for a fifth straight week and robust data from China showing an increase in imports, although the rise in coronavirus cases has globally capped earnings.

FILE PHOTO: General view of the Phillips 66 oil tanks and Bayway refinery in Linden, New Jersey, US March 30, 2020. REUTERS / Mike Segar

Brent crude oil futures were up 13 cents, or 0.2%, to $ 56.19 a barrel at 7:44 a.m. GMT, while US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) was up 20 cents , or 0.4%, at $ 53.11 per barrel.

China’s total crude oil imports rose 7.3% in 2020 despite the coronavirus shock, with record arrivals in the second and third quarters as refineries expanded and low prices encouraged storage, according to customs data.

It ended a good year with most commodities posting positive growth despite weaker economic growth, analysts at ANZ Bank said in a note Thursday.

We expect import demand to remain robust in 2021, albeit at slightly lower growth rates than last year.

Last week, U.S. crude oil inventories fell more than expected, while gasoline and distillate inventories rose as refiners increased production to their highest level since August, Energy said on Wednesday. Information Administration. [EIA/S]

A major U.S. COVID-19 relief package, which President-elect Joe Biden is due to unveil on Thursday, has also bolstered prices.

Data on China continues to outperform and a monstrous US stimulus package appears to be on the way, said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at OANDA.

Both should ensure that plenty of physical buyers will show up if prices drop.

Still, concerns over increasing virus cases and the impact on oil demand have capped price gains.

China, the world’s second-largest oil consumer, reported its largest daily increase in new COVID-19 cases in more than 10 months, with infections in northeastern Heilongjiang province nearly tripling, highlighting the growing threat as a major national holiday approaches.

Governments across Europe on Wednesday announced tighter and longer lockdowns against coronaviruses due to a rapidly spreading variant of COVID first detected in Britain and vaccinations are unlikely to help much before two to three months.

Oil producers face an unprecedented challenge of balancing supply and demand, as factors such as the pace and response to COVID-19 vaccines cloud the outlook, an official from the International Agency for Human Rights has said. energy (AIE).

Reporting by Jessica Jaganathan; edited by Richard Pullin and Himani Sarkar

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