Oil mixed as recession fears are tempered by U.S. inventories

 Oil prices were mixed on Wednesday as falling U.S. inventories lifted the U.S. WTI price while the Brent benchmark steadied as the market took stock of weak U.S. data that raised fears of recession in the world’s biggest economy.

Brent crude eased by 9 cents, or 0.1%, to $80.68 a barrel by 1035 GMT. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude gained 23 cents, or 0.3%, to $77.30.

U.S. crude oil stocks fell by about 6.1 million barrels in the week ended April 21, according to market sources citing American Petroleum Institute (API) figures on Tuesday. Analysts had expected crude inventories to fall by about 1.5 million barrels.

Gasoline inventories fell by 1.9 million barrels last week while distillate inventories rose by 1.7 million barrels, the sources said. Official stockpiles data from the U.S. government is due on Wednesday.

U.S. crude oil stockpiles have been falling since the middle of March as refineries have increased runs to produce more gasoline ahead of the peak summer demand period that starts in May. This has pushed WTI futures prices into backwardation, when prompt futures are higher than later-dated futures, reflecting the higher refinery demand.

Oil prices dived more than 2% on Tuesday, moving towards the level before the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and producer allies such as Russia, known collectively as OPEC+, announced an additional output reduction until the end of the year.

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