Oil Prices Steady Amid Persistent Investor Concerns

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By Jacob Maslow

Oil prices were steady in European trade on Thursday, settling just below Wednesday’s three-month highs as investors remained distracted by supply glut worries.

Crude oil for April delivery declined $0.4, or 0.1% on the New York Mercantile Exchange to trade slightly lower at $38.25 a barrel by 4:05AM ET.

On Wednesday, NYMEX oil futures surged to $38.51 in intraday trading, the highest since December 9, before settling at $38.29, gaining $1.79, or 4.9%.

The previous session’s gains came after weekly data revealed demand for gasoline and distillates was significantly greater than earlier estimates, even after oil stockpiles rose to above 520 million barrels.

In London, Brent oil for May delivery shed $0.11, or 0.27%, to trade a bit lower at $40.96 a barrel on the ICE Futures Exchange. London-traded Brent futures gained $1.42, or 3.58% just the day before.

Brent prices rose to a three-month high of $41.47 earlier this week on renewed hopes of a production freeze after major oil producers said they will meet this month to discuss details.

The global market for crude is currently oversupplied causing prices to fall by more than 70% over the past 20 months after OPEC members ramped up oil production in response to a boom in U.S. shale oil.

Meanwhile, Brent’s premium to the West Texas Intermediate crude contract inched lower to $2.71 a barrel, compared to Wednesday’s $2.78.

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