SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Oil prices slipped but remained near $75 per barrel on Thursday as crude stockpiles in the United States, the world’s top oil consumer, fell last week to their lowest since January 2020 and imports and production dropped.
Brent crude oil futures fell 5 cents, or 0.1%, to $74.69 a barrel by 0108 GMT while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures slipped by 4 cents, or 0.1%, to $72.35 a barrel.
“The (oil inventory) falls suggest the rise in cases of COVID-19’s Delta variant is having little impact on mobility,” ANZ analysts said in a note on Thursday.
Crude inventories fell by 4.1 million barrels in the week to July 23, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said, helped by lower imports and a decline in weekly production.
Gasoline stocks also dropped, bringing them largely in line with pre-pandemic levels.
The U.S. economic recovery is still on track despite a rise in coronavirus infections, the Federal Reserve said on Wednesday in a new policy statement that remained upbeat and flagged ongoing talks around the eventual withdrawal of monetary policy support. The central bank left interest rates at 0%.
Still, some worries on fuel demand remain with gasoline demand in the United States and Europe beginning to plateau. Analysts note that globally, pre-pandemic demand levels may not be seen until beyond next year if coronavirus infections and the slow pace of vaccinations further entrenches structural changes in demand.
COVID-19 continues to inflict a devastating toll on the Americas, with Argentina, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador and Paraguay among the countries with the world’s highest weekly death rates, the Pan American Health Organization said.
Reporting by Jessica Jaganathan; Editing by Sam Holmes