By Adedapo Adesanya
Brent crude futures continued to trade up on Thursday as there were reports of a much smaller-than-anticipated rise in crude inventories in the United States.
On Thursday night, the international crude benchmark rose by 0.06 percent equivalent to 3 cents to trade at $58.80 per barrel. On the other hand, the US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude moved up by 36 cents or 0.67 percent to trade at $53.84 per barrel.
Weekly data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) revealed that U.S. crude supplies edged up by 400,000 barrels for the week ended February 14 from expected 3.3 million expected.
According to the report, “US crude oil refinery inputs averaged 16.2 million barrels per day during the week ending February 14, 2020, which was 190,000 barrels per day more than the previous week’s average. Refineries operated at 89.4 percent of their operable capacity last week.”
Prices also found support as a move by China’s central bank to boost the nation’s economy helped to ease concerns over a slowdown in energy demand.
China’s central bank had earlier this month said it would pump CNY 1.2 trillion into the economy as it plans support for a nationwide fight against the deadly coronavirus virus that has grown and affected oil demand.
This week, China cut its benchmark lending rate and this helped ease some worries about slowing demand in the world’s second-biggest oil consumer and largest crude oil importer.
The country cut the benchmark lending rate on Thursday as the government moved to lower financing costs for businesses and support an economy that has been affected by the coronavirus outbreak.
China sets its 1-year loan prime rate at 4.05 percent from 4.15 percent last month and set its 5-year loan prime rate at 4.75 percent from 4.80 percent a month earlier.
Also supporting oil prices were US sanctions this week on a trading unit of Russian oil giant Rosneft for its ties with Venezuela.
According to reports, the US Treasury Department on Tuesday imposed sanctions on Rosneft Trading SA, the Geneva-based trading unit of Rosneft, as the US targeted Moscow over its backing of Maduro’s government in Venezuela.
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