Oil prices edged higher on Thursday after dipping in early Asian trade, as concerns about global supply tightness outweighed a build in US gasoline and distillate inventories.
Brent crude futures for September, the more actively traded contract, rose 63 cents, or 0.6%, to $113.08 a barrel at 0250 GMT. The less liquidly traded August contract, which expires Thursday, was at $116.08, down 18 cents, or 0.2%.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures climbed 49 cents, or 0.5%, to $110.27.
“Crude oil pushed higher in early trading after a bullish inventory… The drawdown was driven by refiners increasing their throughput amid historically high refining margins,” ANZ analysts said in a note.
Crude inventories fell by 2.8 million barrels in the week to June 24, far exceeding analysts’ expectations in a Reuters poll for a 569,000 barrel drop, U.S. Energy Information Administration data showed, even as U.S. gasoline and distillate stockpiles climbed.
Fuel stocks rose as refiners ramped up activity, operating at 95% of capacity, the highest for this time of year in four years.
But further disruptions to supply supported prices, the ANZ analysts said, amid the suspension of Libyan shipments from two key eastern ports, while Ecuador saw output fall due to ongoing protests.
Exports of Ecuador’s flagship Oriente crude remain suspended under a force majeure declaration as the spread of anti-government protests hurts oil output, state-run Petroecuador said on Wednesday.
However, concerns over slowing economic growth continued to cap price gains.
“Recently central banks’ aggressive rate hikes and a slowdown in the global economic growth have been pressuring commodity markets. Bets of more release of the U.S. oil reserve and OPEC’s increase of oil output also retrained the oil market’s upside momentum,” CMC Markets analyst Tina Teng said.
A stronger dollar also capped price gains as it makes oil more expensive for buyers using other currencies.
Meanwhile, the OPEC+ group, which includes allies such as Russia, began two days of meetings on Wednesday, though sources said there was little prospect of pumping more oil.