Crude oil prices drifted lower after early gains on Wednesday, as official data showed crude stockpiles in the U.S. rose for a tenth successive week.
Continued worries about outlook for energy demand amid fears of a deep recession due to the impact of the coronavirus outbreak weighed as well on energy prices.
Reports that the U.S. President Donald Trump is likely to meet with the heads of some leading oil firms to help find a way out to deal with falling oil prices, and a probable meeting between U.S. and Russian officials on oil production curbs limited oil’s slide.
West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for May ended down $0.17, or about 0.8%, at $20.31 a barrel.
On Tuesday, WTI Crude oil futures ended up $0.39, or 1.9%, at $20.48 a barrel, after hitting a low of $20.05 this afternoon.
Data from Energy Information Administration (EIA) showed oil inventories in the U.S. rose by 13.8 million barrels for the week ended March 27, more than three times the expected jump. It was also the biggest weekly rise in more than three years.
Gasoline stockpiles were up by 7.5 million barrels last week, almost four times the expected increase, while distillate stockpiles unexpectedly fell by 2.2 million barrels.
A report from the American Petroleum Institute, released late Tuesday, showed U.S. crude inventories rose by 10.5 million barrels for the week ended March 27, far exceeding forecasts for a 4-million-barrel build-up.
The API data also showed an increase in gasoline stockpiles by 6.1 million barrels, while distillate inventories declined by nearly 4.5 million barrels.
Saudi Arabia said earlier this week that it would increase exports further to a record 10.6 million barrels per day from May, deepening a global supply glut and showing no sign of bowing to pressure from U.S. President Donald Trump to dial back the oil-price war with Russia.