© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Pump rams operate at sunset in an oil field in Midland, Texas, U.S. August 22, 2018. REUTERS/Nick Oxford/File Photo
By Laura Sanicola
(Reuters) – Oil prices opened in early Asian trade on Thursday as investors balanced caution about tighter supply against weaker demand projections.
futures for the December settlement fell 28 cents, or 0.3%, to $92.13 a barrel at 0010 GMT. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude for November delivery (WTI), which expires Thursday, rose 34 cents, or 0.4%, to $85.89 a barrel.
In remarks on Wednesday, US President Joe Biden said he plans to sell 15 million barrels of crude oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and buy back oil if prices drop enough. The release of reserves would be the latest sale of the planned sale of 180 million barrels of oil announced shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine in February.
However, an impending European Union ban on Russian crude and petroleum products and production cuts from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other producers, including Russia, known as OPEC+ , 2 million barrels per day supported prices.
Global fuel demand remains uncertain. U.S. economic activity has edged up in recent weeks, though it has held steady in some regions and declined in a few others, the Federal Reserve said in a report on Wednesday that showed businesses were growing increasingly pessimistic about to prospects.
Inventories fell unexpectedly last week – down 1.7 million barrels, according to weekly government data, against expectations of a 1.4 million barrel increase. SPR levels fell from 3.6 million barrels to just over 405 million, the lowest since May 1984.