Crude oil prices edged slightly higher on Thursday after the Christmas holiday, as a weekly inventory report indicated a bigger-than-expected decline in stockpiles for oil.
American Petroleum Institute reported late Tuesday that U.S. crude supplies fell by 7.9 million barrels for the week ended Dec. 20, according to sources. That was more than analysts’ consensus expectations for a draw of draw of 1.83 million barrels, according to Reuters.
The weekly inventory report also showed a 2.2 million barrel decline in key U.S. oil delivery hub Cushing, Okla.
The API data came after that report showed a major buildup in stockpiles last week and the current report could provide a lift for crude prices which have been steadily climbing lately, wrote Phil Flynn, senior market analyst at The Price Futures Group.
“It appears that the API wanted to make up for the lost time and this reflects growing global oil demand,” he wrote in a Thursday research report.
West Texas Intermediate crude for February delivery US:CLF20, the U.S. benchmark grade, edged up 6 cents, or 0.1%, at $61.17 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, after rising 1% on Tuesday.
February Brent crude BRNG20, +0.65% picked tacked on 4 cents, or less than 0.1%, to reach $66.21 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe, following a 1.2% gain in the prior session. The international benchmark is at three months highs.
Overall trading on Thursday is expected to remain subdued, with a number of markets remaining closed for the holidays. The Christmas holiday period has delayed the release of U.S. government data from the Energy Information Administration on crude stocks and those for natural gas, which will both be released on Friday.
Trading for crude and its byproducts has been mostly influenced by positive signs from China and the U.S. on the trade front. Chinese officials on Wednesday confirmed that they were close to signing a phase one trade deal, a day after U.S. President Donald Trump said he and China’s President Xi Jinping would have a signing ceremony for the partial trade pact.
The 18 month old trade war between the world’s two largest economies has hit global economic growth and demand for oil, weighing on crude prices for most of the year.