Oil prices drop on sticky inflation, US crude stock build

Oil prices drop on sticky inflation, US crude stock build

Shafaq News/ Oil prices slipped in Asian trade on Wednesday after a U.S. industry group reported crude stocks rose more than expected last week and as investors reined in expectations for interest rate cuts by the U.S. Federal Reserve.

Brent futures fell 11 cents, or 0.13%, to $82.66 a barrel at 0403 GMT. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures fell 3 cents to $77.84 a barrel.

"The (price) rally has been cut short by the higher than expected US inflation print, which has the potential to push back the rate cut cycle," said DBS Bank's energy sector team lead Suvro Sarkar.

"In addition, inventory builds are likely to surprise on the upside this week, and an outage at the BP refinery in Whiting is also not helping matters on the demand side."

U.S. crude oil inventories rose 8.52 million barrels in the week ended Feb. 9, according to market sources citing American Petroleum Institute figures released late on Tuesday.

The build was much bigger than the 2.6 million barrel increase that analysts polled by Reuters expected.

"The builds in crude oil were fairly bearish. However, this was offset by large product declines," ING analysts said in a note, adding that the data probably was a reflection of the 435,000 barrels per day Whiting refinery outage.

The API data showed gasoline inventories fell 7.23 million barrels and distillate stocks fell by 4.02 million barrels, both much larger declines than analysts expected.

Official data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration is due on Wednesday at 1530 GMT.

Also weighing on the market, data on Tuesday showed U.S. consumer inflation stayed elevated last month. As a result, investors now expect Fed policymakers to wait longer before cutting interest rates, potentially dampening economic growth and oil demand.

With expectations of rate cuts pushed out, the dollar rose to a three-month peak. A stronger dollar typically weighs on demand for oil among buyers paying in other currencies.

ANZ analysts said prices had weakened partly due to worries about supply levels from members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), despite an overall bullish demand outlook in the group's monthly report on Tuesday.

"OPEC's monthly oil market report ... raised some concerns about the group’s adherence to its recent production cuts. Only Kuwait and Algeria have implemented their share of cuts, with Iraq’s output well above the agreed quota," ANZ analysts said in a client note.

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