CommoditiesOil Edges Higher, Investors Focus on Europe Demand Prospects.

Oil prices added to overnight gains on Tuesday, as more U.S. states eased lockdowns and the European Union sought to attract more travellers, which would help offset weakened fuel demand in India as COVID-19 cases soar.

Brent crude futures rose 14 cents, or 0.2%, to $67.70 a barrel at 0150 GMT, after climbing 1.2% on Monday.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures also rose 14 cents, or 0.2%, to $64.63 a barrel, after gaining 1.4% on Monday.

oil chart
WTI US OIL PERFORMANCE CHART
Europe’s Oil Demand Prospects

Prices are being supported by the prospect of a pick-up in fuel demand in the United States and Europe, as New York State, New Jersey and Connecticut were set to ease pandemic curbs, and the European Union planned to open up to more foreign visitors who have been vaccinated.

“This should boost holiday travel to coastal regions, as well as increase mobility in major cities,” ANZ Research analysts.

Additionally,  traders will be watching out for reports on crude and product stockpiles from the American Petroleum Institute on Tuesday and the U.S. Energy Information Administration on Wednesday for further signs of rising U.S. oil demand.

Five analysts estimated on average that U.S. crude inventories fell 2.2 million barrels in the week to April 30. Oil inventories rose in the previous two weeks.

The rate of refinery utilisation was expected to have increased by 0.5 percentage points last week, from 85.4% of total capacity in the week ended April 23.

A weaker dollar, hit by an unexpected slowdown in U.S. manufacturing growth, also helped drive up oil prices on Tuesday. The lower dollar makes oil more attractive to buyers holding other currencies.

In India, the total number of infections so far rose to just short of 20 million, propelled by a 12th straight day of more than 300,000 new cases, which is expected to hit fuel demand in the world’s most populous country after China.

“The Indian situation is playing tug-of-war with optimism over a rebound in the West, but with a patchwork of restrictions across the country ranging in severity and duration, demand loss estimates are hard to pin down and a moving target,” Vandana Hari, Energy Analyst, Vanda Insights.

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