TOKYO : Oil prices eased in early Asian trade today after weak U.S. job openings data signalled cooling economic conditions which may hit demand.
West Texas Intermediate U.S. crude was down 14 cents to $80.47 a barrel late yesterday. Last evening, Brent crude futures settled up 5 cents, or 0.1 per cent, at $84.99 a barrel.
Prices jumped by more than 6 per cent on Monday after the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies including Russia, collectively known as OPEC+, pledged voluntary production cuts.
Yet U.S. job openings in February dropped to the lowest level in nearly two years, suggesting that the labour market was cooling. The data offset market’s reaction to earlier OPEC+ cuts and the recent reduction of U.S. crude and fuel stockpiles.
“Crude oil’s rally paused as it battled the headwinds created by the weak economic data. This offset more positive fundamentals”, ANZ Research said in a note.
On a support side, Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter, has raised the prices of its flagship crude for Asian buyers for the third straight month.
“This points to further strength in demand in the region,” ANZ Research added.
U.S. crude inventories fell 3.7 million barrels last week, about 1.5 million barrels more than forecast, government data showed.
Gasoline and distillate stocks also fell more than expected, drawing down by 4.1 million barrels and 3.6 million barrels, respectively.