Oil pumps are seen after sunset outside Vaudoy-en-Brie, near Paris, France. Picture: REUTERS/CHRISTIAN HARTMANN
Oil pumps are seen after sunset outside Vaudoy-en-Brie, near Paris, France. Picture: REUTERS/CHRISTIAN HARTMANN

Tokyo — Oil prices rose on Wednesday, led by US crude after an industry group reported that US stockpiles fell for a fourth week in a row, alleviating concerns about oversupply amid global trade tensions.

West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude had climbed 81 cents, or 1.4%, to $58.64 by 1.51am GMT. Brent was up 61 cents, or 1%, at $64.77, having earlier hit $64.95.

The US and global benchmarks have gained in 2019 as Opec and big producers such as Russia have honoured commitments to cut output.

Investors have also been on the lookout for any signs that unrelenting production from the US is being consumed.

US crude stockpiles fell more than forecast last week, while gasoline inventories decreased and distillate stocks built, data from industry group the American Petroleum Institute (API) showed on Tuesday.

Crude inventories fell by 8.1-million barrels in the week to July 5 to 461.4-million, compared with analyst expectations for a decrease of 3.1-million barrels, according to the data.

Official figures from the government’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) are due later on Wednesday.

“Prices are finely balanced right now as investors await fresh stimulus,” said Fawad Razaqzada, technical analyst at FOREX.com. “The stimulus could come in the form of a sharp change in US crude oil inventories.”

Oil prices have been under pressure from concerns about global economic growth amid increasing signs of harm from the US-China trade war that has rumbled on over the last year. Lower economic growth typically means reduced demand for commodities such as oil.

“Global economic growth remains under pressure, with the latest manufacturing surveys weakening,” NAB said in a note.

“This is likely to impact demand for commodities, although stimulus measures may in some cases support commodity demand,” NAB said, citing China as an example.

Still, US crude oil production is forecast to rise to a record of 12.36-million barrels a day in 2019 from the high of 10.96-million in 2018, the EIA’s Short Term Energy Outlook said on Tuesday.

Opec and allied producers led by Russia agreed last week to extend their supply-cutting deal until March 2020. Brent has risen nearly 20% in 2019, supported by the pact and tensions in the Middle East, especially the row over Iran’s nuclear programme.