Oil prices slightly down

Oil prices gain U.S. crude little changed after inventory data

Oil initially rose more than 1 per cent today after Iran said it had seized a foreign tanker in the Gulf, but prices gradually lost their gains as it emerged that the vessel had only a small cargo and was detained on Sunday for fuel smuggling. Oil price was down almost $5 in past few sessions, following double-rejection at $60.90 and subsequent acceleration lower on news that the U.S. administration might begin talks with Iran.

Oil had fallen yesterday in response to a sharp rise in U.S. stockpiles of products such as gasoline that pointed to weak demand during the United States driving season.

A larger than expected crude inventory drawdown offset by large builds in refined product inventories led to crude prices on Wednesday falling over 1 percent, extending a 3 percent-plus drop in prices in the previous session.

Gasoline stocks rose by 3.6 million barrels, however, compared with analysts' expectations in a Reuters poll for a 925,000-barrel drop.

"Gasoline and distillate stocks increased strongly, which adds a bearish tone to the report", said Carsten Fritsch, oil analyst at Commerzbank.

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Barclays on Thursday lowered its oil price forecasts for the second half of this year and 2020, saying it expected slower demand growth due to a weaker-than-expected global macroeconomic backdrop.

The market shrugged of another incident involving a tanker in West Asia amid tensions between the USA and Iran.

US offshore oil and gas production has continued to return to service since Hurricane Barry passed through the Gulf of Mexico last week, triggering platform evacuations and output cuts.

West Texas Intermediate for August delivery fell $1.38 to $55.40 at 11:01 a.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange, after earlier touching the lowest since June 20.

Iran denied it was willing to negotiate over its ballistic missile program, contradicting a claim by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and appearing to undercut Trump's statement that Washington had made progress on its disputes with Tehran. Moreover, cyclone threatened crude production in the Gulf of Mexico amid rising tension from the Middle East. Oil companies in the Gulf of Mexico had to shut over 53 percent of the regions production.

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