U.S. crude oil falls more than 1%, on pace for worst month of year as gasoline demand is soft

An oil pumpjack is pictured in the Permian Basin in the Loco Hills regions, New Mexico, on April 6, 2023.
Liz Hampton | Reuters

U.S. crude oil was little changed Thursday but is on pace for its worst month of the year and a second consecutive monthly loss.

U.S. crude oil is down 3.2% in May, its worst performance since December. Brent has lost nearly 5% this month, putting the global benchmark on pace for its first negative month in five.

Oil prices have traded in a tight range over the past month as inventories have stabilized, though soft economic data points to further downside risks, according to Amarpreet Singh, energy analyst at Barclays. Demand in China appears to have softened in the first quarter, Singh told clients in a note.

Here are today’s energy prices:

  • West Texas Intermediate July contract: $79.30 a barrel, up 5 cents, or 0.06%. Year to date, U.S. oil is up 10.7%.
  • Brent July contract: $83.49 a barrel, down 11 cents, or 0.13%. Year to date, the global benchmark is up 8.4%.
  • RBOB Gasoline June contract: $2.44 per gallon, down 0.75%. Year to date, gasoline futures are up 16.8%.
  • Natural Gas July contract: $2.68 per thousand cubic feet, up 0.49%. Year to date, natural gas is up 6.5%.

“The pullback by no means is a calamity, it merely serves as an admonition that the current backdrop, both economic and fundamental, would not justify an uninterrupted ascent towards the annual summits,” Tamas Varga, analyst at oil broker PVM, told clients in a note.

Investors are waiting for the latest round of U.S. inventory data Thursday, inflation data Friday and a crucial OPEC+ meeting on Sunday that will review the group’s production levels.

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