Oil prices fell slightly on Thursday, still close to pandemic records, pending an indicator on Chinese imports of black gold.
A barrel of North Sea Brent for March delivery, the main contract traded in London, closed down a small 0.24% at $84.47.
In New York, a barrel of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for February delivery closed down 0.63% to $82.12.
Brent and WTI remained close to the levels reached at the end of October, that is, 86.70 dollars for the former and 85.41 for the latter, the highest since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
For its part, the Mexican export mix fell this Thursday 0.29% or 22 cents to be quoted at 76.75 dollars a barrel.
“The US market is on standby, following the drop in oil stocks to their lowest level in three years, and the stronger-than-expected rise in gasoline stocks,” Louise Dickson, an analyst, said in a note. of Rystad Energy.
This caution is linked, he said, to the prospect of the publication, on Friday in China, of the Chinese import figures for December.
Several cities in the Asian country, affected by outbreaks of Covid-19, have been the subject of confinement measures decreed in recent days.
Some investors took a closer look at US Energy Information Administration (EIA) data released on Wednesday.
The data showed that fuel demand has been affected by Omicron, with gasoline stocks rising by 8 million barrels in the week to January 7, compared with analysts’ expectations for a 2 million barrel increase. .,4 million barrels.
“US producer price inflation data … could put pressure on the Fed to rein in the economy, which could weigh on crude prices and support the dollar,” said John Kilduff, partner at Again Capital Management, calling these “modestly concerning factors.”
Oil prices normally move inversely to the US dollar. A stronger currency makes commodities more expensive for those holding other currencies.
Oil prices have risen more than 50% in 2021 and analysts expect this trend to continue this year, forecasting that a lack of production capacity and limited investment could lift crude to $90 or even more than $100 a barrel.