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U.S. oil turns higher, heads for longest string of gains in a month

Crude-oil prices were posting further gains Wednesday after news suggesting the omicron variant of the coronavirus may not disrupt economies as much as feared, leaving the energy demand recovery intact.

A report from Pfizer Inc.
PFE,
+0.47%

 and BioNTech SE
BNTX,
+8.17%

 said results from an “initial laboratory study” showed that their COVID-19 vaccine neutralized the omicron variant of the coronavirus after three doses, or the full two-dose regimen plus a booster shot.

West Texas Intermediate crude for January delivery
CLF22,
+0.33%

 
CL00,
+0.33%

picked up 18 cents, or 0.3%, to trade at $72.26 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, up from an intra-session low at $70.91, after rallying 3.7% on Tuesday. A gain on Wednesday would match the most-active contract’s longest stretch of gains, three straight days, since the period ended Nov. 9.

February Brent crude
BRNG22,
+0.49%

BRN00,
+0.49%
,
 the global benchmark, rose 31 cents, or 0.4%, to reach $75.77 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe, from an intraday low at $74.38, after rising 3.2% a day ago for a fourth straight gain. If Brent settles higher on Wednesday, the gain would match the longest string of advances for the most-active since the period ended Sept. 27.

Oil traders are awaiting inventory data from the Energy Information Administration, which will be released later in the morning. On average, the EIA is expected to show crude inventories down by 1.2 million barrels, according to a survey of analysts conducted by S&P Global Platts. The survey also calls for supply increases of 1.4 million barrels for gasoline and 900,000 barrels for distillates.

Late Tuesday, the American Petroleum Institute, a less closely followed weekly update on inventories, reported that U.S. crude supplies fell by 3.1 million barrels for the week ended Dec. 3, according to sources. The API also reportedly showed weekly inventory increases of 3.7 million barrels for gasoline and 1.2 million barrels for distillates. Crude stocks at the Cushing, Okla., delivery hub, meanwhile, climbed by 2.4 million barrels last week, sources said.

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