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Oil prices up as U.S. crude stocks seen falling, dollar eases

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Oil prices rose in early Asian trade on Wednesday as U.S. crude stocks were seen falling last week, while the dollar weakened, making oil less expensive for non-American buyers.

Brent crude futures rose 8 cents to $80.07 per barrel by 0126 GMT, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures gained 6 cents to $76.29.

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U.S. crude oil inventories fell by about 3.1 million barrels in the week ended Dec. 16, according to market sources citing American Petroleum Institute figures. Gasoline inventories rose by about 4.5 million barrels, while distillate stocks rose by 828,000 barrels, according to the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

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The U.S. dollar index, which trades inversely with oil, fell 0.69% in Tuesday trade.

Rising COVID-19 cases in China kept prices from moving higher.

China’s crude oil imports from Russia rose 17% in November from a year earlier, as Chinese refiners rushed to secure more cargoes ahead of a price cap imposed by the Group of Seven nations on Dec. 5.

The increase made Russia the top oil supplier for China ahead of Saudi Arabia.

Meanwhile, Saudi energy minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said in an interview with the Saudi state news agency that OPEC+ members leave politics out of the decision-making process and out of their assessments and forecasting.

The minister added that the OPEC+ decision to cut oil output, which was heavily criticized, turned out to be the right one for supporting the stability of the market and the industry.

Oil prices, which came close to the all-time high of $147 a barrel in March after Russia invaded Ukraine, have unwound most of their 2022 gains. (Reporting by Laila Kearney in New York; Editing by Christopher Cushing)


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