Inventories Drop Leads to Hike in Oil Prices

Petroleum prices rose on Wednesday after an industry report showed that crude inventories in the United States fell against expectations, giving the market a boost amid record increases of coronavirus infections in the U.S. and elsewhere.

Brent crude futures were up by 53 cents, or 1.23%, at $43.74 U.S. a barrel, after dropping 0.4% on Tuesday.

West Texas Intermediate crude futures gained 36 cents, or 0.85%, to $41.39 U.S. a barrel, having dropped 1.4% in the previous session.

Data released Wednesday by the U.S. Energy Information Administration showed that for the week ending July 24, inventories were the less by 10.6 million barrels. Analysts had expected a draw of 357,000 barrels.

The COVID-19 pandemic is adding to concerns about falling fuel demand causing an oversupplied market as record numbers of infections are reported globally, including the U.S., the world’s biggest consumer of oil.

Four U.S. states reported one-day records for coronavirus deaths on Tuesday and cases in Texas passed the 400,000 mark.

Attempts to provide relief amid the outbreak were in disarray as Republicans in the U.S. disagreed over their own plan for providing $1 trillion in new coronavirus aid on Tuesday.