After gaining over 7% over the previous three sessions, oil prices held steady in Asia on Thursday as traders digested the latest comments from Federal Reserve officials and conflicting data from the Energy Information Administration.
With Wednesday’s nearly 2% gain, West Texas Intermediate futures were trading above $78 per barrel on early Thursday. Several Federal Reserve speakers have reiterated the central bank’s position that interest rates must continue rising to battle inflation, bringing renewed worries that this trend will hinder economic growth.
The EIA report also revealed that refinery utilization had increased to its highest level since December, while crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, storage hub had grown to their largest level since July 2021. Additionally, there was a larger-than-anticipated increase in fuel supplies.
Since the beginning of the year, crude has had volatile trading as investors search for evidence of a prolonged resurgence in Chinese demand, which some anticipate would drive prices above $100 per barrel. Due to recent disruptions in Norwegian and Azerbaijani flows, key time spreads are indicating a tight market.