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Oil prices reversed earlier gains on Friday and fell as surging U.S. output as well as signs of weakening demand in China weighed on markets, even though supply woes in Venezuela and OPEC’s ongoing production cuts offered crude some support.
After gaining some ground early in the session, Brent crude futures LCOc1, the international benchmark for oil prices, were at $77.06 per barrel at 0551 GMT, down 26 cents, or 0.3 percent from their last close. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures CLc1 were down 18 cents, or 0.3 percent, at $65.77 a barrel.
China’s May crude oil imports eased away from a record high hit the month before, customs data showed on Friday, with state-run refineries entering planned maintenance. May shipments were 39.05 million tonnes, or 9.2 million barrels per day (bpd), according to the General Administration of Customs.
That compared with 9.6 million bpd in April. Further weighing on prices has been surging U.S. output C-OUT-T-EIA, which hit another record last week at 10.8 million bpd. That’s a 28 percent gain in two years, or an average 2.3 percent growth rate per month since mid-2016.