Oil prices ease on dim economic outlook despite signs of firmer demand
Oil prices dipped on Wednesday as concerns over the lasting economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic outweighed signs of improving demand and production cuts by major oil producers.
Brent crude futures for July delivery (LCoc1) were trading down 11 cents, or 0.3%, at $34.54 per barrel at 0031 GMT.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures for July (CLc1) were down 13 cents, or 0.4%, at $31.83 a barrel. The July contract became the front month after WTI futures for June expired on Tuesday, avoiding the chaos of last month's May expiry when prices slid into negative territory.
Oil prices have risen in the past three weeks, with both benchmarks climbing to above $30 for the first time in more than a month on Monday, supported by massive output cuts by major oil producers and signs of improving demand.
However, a bleak economic outlook from the U.S. Federal Reserve put downward pressure on oil prices.
U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said on Tuesday layoffs by state and local governments will slow the U.S. economic recovery, while Boston Federal Reserve Bank President Eric Rosengren said the U.S. unemployment rate is likely to stay at double-digit levels by year-end.
"Crude oil prices gave up earlier gains amid concerns about the long-lasting economic damage the coronavirus has caused," ANZ Research said in a note.
U.S. crude inventories fell by 4.8 million barrels to 521.3 million barrels in the week to May 15, data from industry group the American Petroleum Institute (API) showed on Tuesday.
Official data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) is due at 10:30 a.m. (1430 GMT) on Wednesday. [API/S]
Reflecting a slow return of demand, Asia's gasoline profit margins turned positive on Tuesday for the first in nearly two months, giving hope to global oil refiners.