SINGAPORE -- Prices of oil slid on Thursday when inventory data in the United States, the world's top oil consumer, showed a boom in gasoline stocks that indicates weaker-than forecast fuel demand at the start of the summer, the peak season for motoring in the country.
Brent oil futures were down 34 cents, or 0.5% at $71.88 a barrel by 0108 GMT while US crude oil futures fell by 36 cents or 0.5% at $69.60 a barrel.
Markets were optimistic on demand as the U.S. enters the peak driving season on Thursday, analysts from ANZ Research said in a note.
An increase in vaccinations and increasing traffic numbers are a plus for demand for transportation fuel. However, this data highlights that it won't be a smooth road back to recovery.
The United States crude oil stocks that include the Strategic Petroleum Reserve fell for the 11th straight week as refiners increased output, but fuel inventories grew sharply due to weak consumer demand, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.
Crude inventories that exclude SPR fell to 474 million barrels in the week to June 4, the third consecutive drop. But fuel stocks were sharply down with product supplied down to 19.1 million barrels per day versus 17.7 million the week before.
In another development that weighs on prices, Libya's Es Sider Oil Co aims to return to normal production on Thursday after fixing a leak on a pipeline that more than halved the company's oil production, said an oil source at the Waha Oil Co crude export terminal in Libya.
In India, the third-largest oil consumer in the world, fuel demand slumped in May to its lowest since August of last year, with a second wave COVID 19 - stalling mobility and muting economic activity in the world's third oil consumer.