Oil Prices Gain Slightly as Recession Fears Outweigh US Inventory Fall

With the attention shifting to major economic data due later in the day, oil prices gained marginally in early Asian trading on Thursday, but had suffered significant losses for the week as fears of slowing economic growth overshadowed signs of tighter U.S. supplies.

Brent oil futures rose 0.5% to $78.06 a barrel, while West Texas Intermediate crude futures rose 0.2% to $74.46 a barrel by 10.56 A.M. Bangkok time. For the week, trading in both contracts was down more than 4%.

Oil prices have dropped dramatically during the previous two trading days, wiping almost all of the gains achieved in response to a surprise production cut by OPEC and its allies. Prices were now near to a one-month low and below the OPEC target of $80 per barrel. 

This year’s poor economic data and business performance raised concerns about a U.S. recession, which knocked on crude prices due to the possible impact on oil demand. 

Investors awaited the first-quarter U.S. GDP report for further details. High interest rates and inflation undoubtedly hindered economic growth since the fourth quarter.

The markets expected the personal consumption expenditures price index to show that inflation remained stubborn in March. Reading is due later Thursday.