Oil Stands Firm as China Begins Consumption

Oil prices steadied Thursday as knowledge showed China’s crude imports rebounded, but market watchers expect gains to be limited by the excess in supplies as the coronavirus pandemic crushes global fuel demand.

Brent crude was up by 3 cents, i.e., 0.1%, to $29.75/barrel, after plunging 4% Wednesday.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate futures jumped 4 cents to 24.03 a barrel after declining over 2% in the earlier session.

Both contracts buoyed in an out of negative territory through the Asian morning on light trade with some markets on holiday.

Oil prices had been supported by data displaying Chinese crude imports rose in April. Imports leaped to 10.42 million barrels per day (BPD) in April from 9.68 million BPD in March, in accordance with calculations based on customs data for the first four months of this year. General exports from China also climbed against expectations of a sharp plunge.

While costs have increased since late April as some countries have begun relaxing lockdowns put in place to combat the worst pandemic in a century, oil nations to be produced into storage, leaving a massive mismatch between demand and supply.

U.S. crude inventories had been up for a 15th straight week last week, growing by 4.6 million barrels, the Energy Information Administration stated Wednesday.

That was less than analysts had estimated in a Reuters poll, which suggested a 7.8 million-barrel increase, but the gain highlighted once again how much supply is being stored.