Crude oil gained ground today on the back of a weaker U.S. dollar, a decline in U.S. crude oil inventories and as Britain approved another coronavirus vaccine, but both benchmark contracts were set to end the year about 20% lower.
Brent crude futures rose 45 cents to $51.54 a barrel by 1001 GMT, having started the year above $66. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude added 39 cents to trade at $48.39, down from around $62 at the beginning of 2020.
Continued concern about coronavirus-related restrictions weighing on fuel demand were countered by some bullish factors. The U.S. dollar hit its lowest against a basket of currencies since 2018, making oil cheaper for holders of other currencies.
Raising hopes of a faster normalisation of travel and work, Britain on Wednesday became the first country to approve a coronavirus vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca.
Asian shares hit a record high with investors betting on a strong economic recovery next year, with little sign of policymakers winding back massive stimulus efforts and the United States on the brink of agreeing a new package.
U.S. crude oil stockpiles fell 4.8 million barrels last week to about 492.9 million barrels, exceeding analysts’ expectations in a Reuters poll for a draw of 2.6 million barrels, data from API showed.
On the supply front, a Jan. 4 meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and allies including Russia, a group known as OPEC+, looms over the market.