Oil falls amid demand concerns and strengthening dollar

Oil prices were down in Asian trade on Thursday as the U.S. dollar strengthened on rate-hike expectations and after recent economic data from the U.S. and China did not do enough to encourage expectations that demand will improve.

Brent crude futures lost 78 cents to trade at $82.34 a barrel, while West Texas Intermediate crude (WTI) futures dropped 95 cents, to $78.21.

Both benchmarks, declining for a second day after a 2% fall on Wednesday, are at their lowest since OPEC+ announced its surprise production cut on April 2.

The U.S. dollar index has moved up around 0.40% over the course of this week. A strengthening greenback makes oil more expensive for holders of other currencies.

U.S. economic activity was little changed in recent weeks, with employment growth moderating somewhat and price increases appearing to slow, according to a Federal Reserve report published on Wednesday.

U.S. crude stockpiles fell by 4.6 million barrels last week as refinery runs and exports rose, while gasoline inventories jumped unexpectedly on disappointing demand, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

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