Oil prices have inched higher after an industry report released by the American Petroleum Institute (API) showed that US crude stocks reduced more than expected.

This increased hopes that fuel demand in the US, the world’s biggest economy, could cope with the Covid-19 pandemic.

Brent crude rose by $0.15, or 0.3%, reaching $44.65 a barrel while West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures increased by $0.09, or 0.2%, to reach $41.70 a barrel, Reuters reported.

Data released by the API highlighted that the US crude inventories decreased by four million barrels last week.

Meanwhile, investors are awaiting official government data, which is due to be released on 12 August.

OANDA senior market analyst Edward Moya was quoted by the news agency as stating: “Oil prices are rising as the crude demand outlook improves.”

However, uncertainty over a ‘stalemate’ in Washington in talks for a relief package to support recovery from the Covid-19 outbreak might weigh on prices ‘looking ahead’.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the oil field services sector in the US has lost more than 99,000 jobs, hitting the lowest employment level in more than three years, Bloomberg reported citing the report by industry-funded trade group Petroleum Equipment and Services Association.

The states of Texas, Louisiana, Colorado, Oklahoma and New Mexico were among the most affected.

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have exceeded 20,113,000, with more than 737,000 deaths and 12,350,000 recoveries.

The top three most affected countries remain the US, Brazil and India.