Oil prices held steady on Wednesday, April 12, 2023, a surprise increase in U.S. crude stocks. The market has been watching the rise in crude stockpiles closely in recent weeks as it may indicate a slowdown in global demand.
Brent crude prospects were up 4 cents at $80.34 a barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were down 2 cents at $76.45 a barrel.
The American Petroleum Institute reported on Monday that U.S. crude inventories rose by 2.9 million barrels in the week ending April 7, defying expectations of a decline. The data comes as the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies, including Russia, are considering whether to increase output in the coming months to meet rising demand.
Market analysts are divided on the direction of oil prices, with some predicting a further rally while others see prices easing off. The U.S. Federal Reserve’s decision to raise interest rates last month has also added to the uncertainty in the market.
Despite the increase in U.S. crude inventories, global demand for oil remains strong, particularly in emerging economies. This, coupled with the ongoing geopolitical tensions in the Middle East and North Africa, is expected to provide support for oil prices in the near term. However, the long-term outlook for the oil market is clouded by the shift towards renewable energy and efforts to reduce carbon emissions.