KUALA LUMPUR :Oil prices rose on Wednesday (Aug 17), recovering from six-month lows hit the previous day, as a larger-than-expected drop in US oil and gasoline stocks reminded investors that demand remains firm, if overshadowed by the prospect of a global recession.
Brent crude futures rose 56 cents, or 0.6 per cent, to US$92.90 a barrel by 0415 GMT (12.15pm Singapore time). West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures climbed 62 cents, or 0.7 per cent, to US$87.15 a barrel.
The contracts slumped about 3 per cent on Tuesday as weak US housing starts data spurred concerns about a potential global recession.
"A drawdown of US gasoline stockpiles for a second straight week has reassured investors that demand is resilient, prompting buys," said Kazuhiko Saito, chief analyst at Fujitomi Securities.
"Still, the oil market is expected to stay under pressure, with fairly high volatility, due to worries over a potential global recession," he said.
US crude and fuel stocks fell in the latest week, according to market sources citing American Petroleum Institute figures on Tuesday.
Crude stocks fell by about 448,000 barrels for the week ended Aug. 12. Gasoline inventories fell by about 4.5 million barrels, while distillate stocks fell by about 759,000 barrels, according to the sources.
An extended Reuters poll showed on Tuesday that crude inventories likely dropped by around 300,000 barrels last week and gasoline stockpiles likely fell 1.1. million barrels, while distillate inventories rose.
Investors also awaited clarity on talks to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. Oil supply could rise if Iran and the United States accept a proposal from the European Union, which would remove sanctions on Iranian oil exports, analysts said.
The EU and United States said on Tuesday they were studying Iran's response to what the EU has called its "final" proposal to save the 2015 nuclear deal after Tehran called on Washington to show flexibility.
"When WTI prices were well north of US$100, the revival of the Iranian nuclear agreement looked like a potentially winning mid-term issue but it appears to be a less compelling case in the current price and security context," said RBC Capital analyst Helima Croft in a note on Wednesday.
"We would note that the Europeans are likely more incentivised to secure a deal given the looming supply shortage the continent faces when Russian sanctions come on in December."
The European Union will stop buying all Russian crude oil delivered by sea from early December, and will ban all Russian refined products two months later in sanctions imposed over Moscow's invasion of Ukraine. Russia calls its actions there "a special operation".
Meanwhile, Barclays lowered its Brent price forecasts on Tuesday by US$8 per barrel for 2022 and 2023, as it expects a large surplus of crude oil over the near-term due to "resilient" Russian supplies.