Brent crude futures fell 44 cents, or 0.67%, to $64.88 a barrel by 1041 GMT, having dropped by $1.25 on Wednesday. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) U.S. crude futures were down 38 cents, or 0.62%, at $60.97 after losing $1.32 the previous day.
U.S. crude oil stockpiles unexpectedly edged higher by 594,000 barrels in the week to April 16, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday. Analysts had expected a drop of 3 million barrels, a Reuters survey showed.
“An unexpected and high increase in the U.S. inventories fueled concerns over weak demand,” said Rakuten Securities analyst Satoru Yoshida.
“What is hurting the market sentiment is also the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic is spreading again at a fast pace in India and Japan despite hopes that vaccinations would improve the infection situation.”
India, the world’s third-largest oil user, on Thursday reported the world’s highest daily increase to date with 314,835 new coronavirus cases.
Japan, the world’s No.4 oil importer, is expected to announce a third wave of lockdowns affecting Tokyo and three western prefectures, media reported.
Adding to the bearish sentiment is progress on talks between Iran and world powers to resurrect the 2015 nuclear accord, said PVM oil analyst Tamas Varga. Iranian oil exports could jump and add to crude oversupply should a deal be reached.
“It is the same old story, brighter oil balance for the second half of the year competes with the current gloomy reality,” Varga said.
“At the moment the latter is winning, but it is only a question of time before this trend reverses.” (Reporting by Julia Payne in London; additional reporting by Yuka Obayashi in Tokyo; editing by David Goodman and Jason Neely)