Oil futures edged lower in choppy trade Thursday as investors weighed the demand outlook clouded by a pickup in COVID-19 cases.
West Texas Intermediate crude for November delivery was down 10 cents, or 0.3%, at $38.83 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while December Brent crude the global benchmark, was down 11 cents, or 0.3%, at $42.15 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe.
“Lifeless crude prices and frightful refining margins present a faltering demand recovery, especially with COVID cases rising again. But fortunately, OPEC’s supply constraint and a further fall in U.S. supply in 4Q and 2021 will provide the offset,” said Stephen Innes, chief global markets strategist at AXIcorp, in a note.
Oil rose Wednesday after the Energy Information Administration reported that U.S. crude inventories fell for a second straight week, by 1.6 million barrels for the week ended Sept. 18. That was much less than the average forecast from analysts polled by S&P Global Platts for a decline of 4 million barrels, but the American Petroleum Institute on Tuesday had reported an increase of 691,000 barrels. Also, gasoline inventories fell by a larger-than-expected 4 million barrels, while distillate stocks unexpectedly declined by 3.4 million barrels.
November gasoline was off 0.4% at $1.1532 a gallon, while November heating as off 0.3% at $1.1139 a gallon.
November natural gas jumped 1.3% to $2.833 per million British thermal units.