Oil traded near a one-month high after entering a bull market, while the tension between an uncertain economic outlook and efforts by OPEC to restrict supplies continued to cause volatile trading.
West Texas Intermediate slipped 0.5 percent after a rally on Wednesday brought crude’s rebound from an 18-month low in December to 23 percent.
Prices had climbed as Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih expressed confidence that production curbs by the OPEC+ coalition would balance the market. Yet investors remain wary as they await concrete details of U.S.-China trade negotiations, which are clouding the economic outlook.
Oil’s eight-day gain through Wednesday marked its longest advance since mid-2017, reflecting a return of economic optimism as the U.S. and China worked on resolving their trade dispute and the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries began production cuts.
Yet an increase in American petroleum inventories on Wednesday served as a reminder that booming U.S. shale-oil production may still leave the global market with more supply than it needs.
“The pessimism of market participants at the end of the year was excessive, and so we expected prices to rise,” said Eugen Weinberg, head of commodities research at Commerzbank AG in Frankfurt. “However, for a further price increase, a decisive action by OPEC is necessary.”
WTI for February delivery traded at $52.12 a barrel, down 24 cents, on the New York Mercantile Exchange as of 10:35 a.m. London time. Prices surged 5.2 percent on Wednesday to the highest since Dec. 13.