Brent up, others ease

    911

    TOKYO- Oil prices were mixed on Wednesday as a bigger-thanexpected build in US crude stocks and weaker US retail sales stoked fears over fuel demand, although hopes that OPEC and its allies will delay a planned rise in oil output lent support.

    Brent crude futures for January rose 3 cents, or 0.1 percent, to $43.78 a barrel, while US West Texas Intermediate crude for December eased 3 cents, or 0.1 percent, to $41.40 a barrel.

    The American Petroleum Institute (API) said on Tuesday that US crude stockpiles rose by 4.2 million barrels last week, well above analysts’ expectations in a Reuters poll for a build of 1.7 million barrels.

    “The API crude inventories rose much higher than expected, which added to pressure,” said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at OANDA.

    Disappointing US retail sales also raised concerns over weaker US consumption in light of the COVID-19 resurgence, he said.

    US retail sales increased less than expected in October, restrained by spiraling new COVID-19 infections and declining household income as millions of unemployed Americans lose government financial support.

    “Still, I think today is the day of consolidation … investors just saw an excuse for unwinding their long positions,” Halley said.

    To tackle weaker energy demand amid a new wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, Saudi Arabia called on fellow members of the OPEC+ grouping – OPEC and other producers including Russia – to be flexible in responding to oil market needs as it builds the case for a tighter production policy in 2021.

    “Hopes that OPEC+ will keep existing cuts further into 2021, or even increase the cuts, underpinned prices,” said Hiroyuki Kikukawa, general manager of research at Nissan Securities.

    He predicted WTI will stay boxed into a range of $39 to $44 a barrel until a full meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) later this month.