Oil prices dipped on Wednesday, with Brent crude futures failing to find support at $50 per barrel, as global fuel markets remained oversupplied, although rising tension in the Middle East and falling U.S. inventories lent some support.
Brent crude futures were trading at $49.94 per barrel at 0041 GMT, down 18 cents, or 0.4 percent, from their last close. Brent is almost 8 percent below it levels on May 25, when an OPEC-led policy to cut oil output was extended to cover the first quarter of 2018.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $47.98 per barrel, down 21 cents, or 0.4 percent, from their previous close, and down over 6 percent from May 25.
Traders said an ongoing fuel supply overhang was keeping prices under pressure despite a pledge led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to hold back almost 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) of production until the first quarter of 2018.
World fuel production and consumption is roughly in supply and demand balance, at almost 98 million bpd, although inventories remain somewhat bloated, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).
Traders said the market was supported by heightened political tensions in the Middle East and by signs of a gradual drawdown of bloated fuel inventories in the United States.
Commodities brokerage Marex Spectron said it expects “lower supply of crude oil on the physical market” in the coming weeks, adding that “this is likely to provide support to the price” of oil.
A campaign by leading Arab powers, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, to isolate Qatar is disrupting trade in commodities from oil, natural gas, metals, and food.In the United States, U.S. crude inventories fell by 8.7 million barrels in the week to May 26, data from the American Petroleum Institute showed late on Tuesday.
Official data by the EIA will be published later on Wednesday.
Marex Spectron said that the demand outlook for coming weeks from refineries was strong, also supporting prices.
However, the brokerage said that price gains could be capped by what it called a “deeply bearish” macroeconomic environment.