Oil has fallen this week as the specter of a renewed U.S-China trade conflict dents the demand outlook, while US fuel stockpiles jumped. The S&P 500 opened lower by 5.55 points, or 0.2%, at 2,978.87.
The value of a futures contract for WTI crude for August delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) decreased by $0.84 (1.46%) to $56.78 a barrel.
Crude production was disrupted last week by Storm Barry, which came ashore on Saturday in central Louisiana as a Category 1 hurricane, the first major storm to hit the US Gulf of Mexico this season. Royal Dutch Shell, a top Gulf producer, said Wednesday it had resumed about 80% of its average daily production in the region.
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"A hurricane-impacted report shows a drop in production and imports offsetting lower refining activity to yield a draw to crude stocks", said Matt Smith, director of Commodity Research at ClipperData. "This week the situation has totally changed and everyone is trying to get out of the market". The US benchmark hit a session high of $60.02 earlier.
Oil had fallen on Wednesday in response to a sharp rise in USA stockpiles of products such as gasoline that pointed to weak demand during the US driving season.
Oil futures fell more than one per cent overnight, extending a more than three per cent drop in prices in the previous session, after U.S. government data showed large builds in refined product stockpiles.
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The summer driving season normally entails increased consumption of gasoline. The market was also weighed down by signs of further increases in output from the United States, which has ridden a wave of shale oil production to become the world's biggest crude producer, ahead of Russian Federation and Saudi Arabia. U.S President Donald Trump said on Tuesday progress had been made with Iran but Tehran denied it was willing to negotiate over its missile program.
"As oil keeps flowing, prices are likely to rise only temporarily", Staunovo added.
Iran said the vessel, which it did not identify, was smuggling fuel and had been carrying 1 million liters, or around 6,200 barrels.
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U.S. officials say they are unsure whether an oil tanker towed into Iranian waters was seized by Iran or rescued after facing mechanical faults as the Iranian government asserts, sowing confusion at a time of high tension in the Gulf.