Oil prices slid on Thursday after industry data showed a larger-than-expected build-up in stocks in the United States, adding to concerns that demand for oil around the world may weaken amid further signs of a global economic slowdown. Global benchmark Brent crude oil futures had fallen by 40 cents, or 0.7%, to $59.02 a barrel by 0110 GMT. U.S. crude oil futures were down by 46 cents, or 0.9%, to $52.90.
U.S. crude inventories soared by 10.5 million barrels to 432.5 million barrels in the week to Oct. 11, according to the American Petroleum Institute’s weekly report, published ahead of official government stocks data due on Thursday. Analysts had estimated U.S. crude inventories rose around 2.8 million barrels last week.
“An enormous U.S. inventory build hits at precisely the wrong moment when the markets are overly focused on demand devastation due to the latest run of weaker global economic data,” Stephen Innes, Asia Pacific market strategist at AxiTrader, said in a note on Thursday. If confirmed by the government data, the build-up would be the biggest U.S. inventory swell since February, 2017, Innes said.
Meanwhile concerns about the future of the global economy – and therefore oil demand – grew as data from the United States showed that retail sales fell for the first time in seven months in September. That followed data earlier this month showing a moderation in job growth and services sector activity in the same month.