Oil prices fell by 2% to their lowest levels after two gain sessions, as deepening fears of an economic slowdown and the strengthening dollar outweighed hopes of higher Chinese demand.
Brent crude fell by $1.96, or 2.4%, to settle at $80.77 a barrel, its lowest close since March 31, before OPEC announced plans to cut production.
US West Texas Intermediate crude fell by $1.69, or 2.2%, to close at $77.07. Also, it is its lowest this month, and last Monday, both contracts were up by more than 1%.
According to market sources quoting figures from the American Petroleum Institute on Tuesday, US crude oil stocks fell by about 6.1 million barrels in the week ending April 21. Analysts had expected crude inventories to decline by about 1.5 million barrels.
The sources added that gasoline stocks also declined last week, while distillate stocks rose, and official stock data from the US government is due to be released on Wednesday.
Planned and involuntary supply cuts helped underpin this. Northern Iraq’s oil exports showed little sign of an imminent resumption after a month’s hiatus, while OPEC + producing group members are preparing to start voluntary production cuts in May.
The dollar rose amid deep concerns about company profits and the global economy. The dollar pressured the oil demand by making the commodity more expensive for buyers who hold other currencies.
Investors remained concerned that potential interest rate increases by central banks fighting inflation could slow economic growth and affect energy demand in the United States, Britain and the European Union.
The US Federal Reserve, the Bank of England and the European Central Bank are expected to raise interest rates at their next meetings, and the Fed will meet on May 2-3.