“Oil prices hold firm as global attention shifts towards escalating tensions in the Middle East and concerns over rising US crude inventories.”
Oil prices remained steady on Thursday as the market assessed conflicting factors, including tensions in the Middle East and a rise in U.S. crude inventories. Brent crude futures dropped 3 cents to $90.10 a barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures dipped 3 cents to $85.36 a barrel. Although oil prices had risen nearly 2% on Wednesday due to concerns about the Middle East conflict, they lacked clear direction on Thursday as investors considered the increase in U.S. crude stockpiles, indicating weak demand. Analysts also noted that underlying fundamentals were weaker than expected, with product demand in the U.S. surprisingly low. Refinery crude runs in the U.S. fell by 207,000 barrels per day, and refinery utilization rates dropped by 0.5 percentage point to 85.6% of total capacity. Investors will continue to monitor developments in the Middle East, as any escalation in the conflict could disrupt oil markets and supplies. Additionally, macroeconomic concerns surrounding oil demand persist, as euro zone business activity data unexpectedly declined this month.