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May 20, 2020

Oil prices increase amid signs of improving demand

Oil prices have increased amid signs of improvement in fuel demand and a fall in the US crude stocks.

By Himaja Ganta

Oil prices have increased amid signs of improvement in fuel demand and a fall in the US crude stocks.

But lingering concerns over the economic disruption from the Covid-19 outbreak, especially in the US, capped gains.

Brent crude futures for July delivery LCoc1 rose $0.23 to $34.88 a barrel, while US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures for July CLc1 increased $0.14 at $32.10 per barrel, Reuters reported.

Both Brent and US crude benchmarks have witnessed gains over the past three weeks, supported by record output cuts by OPEC+ Group and signs of recovery in fuel demand.

Data released by industry group the American Petroleum Institute (API) reported a fall in the US crude inventories by 4.8 million barrels to 521.3 million barrels in the week that ended on 15 May.

API data showed that refinery runs increased by 229,000 barrels per day (bpd). This indicates that facilities are trying to produce more fuel as the US eases lockdown restrictions imposed to curb the spread of coronavirus.

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Meanwhile, investors are awaiting official data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) which is due to be released later today.

Samsung Securities Seoul commodity analyst Kim Kwang-rae was quoted by the news agency as saying: “Oil markets have worried about high crude inventories but yesterday the WTI June contract expired and rolled over to July smoothly as concerns over crude stocks ease and demand has improved in the short-term.”

On 19 May, gasoline profit margins GL92-SIN-CRK in Asia turned positive for the first time in two months.

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