NEW YORK, Feb. 10 (UPI) -- A relatively static, but lower, forecast for oil demand for 2016 from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries left oil prices mixed early Wednesday.
OPEC in its market report for February said it estimated oil demand for 2016 would grow by 1.25 million barrels per day, down from the growth forecast for 2015 of 1.5 million bpd. OPEC said the February forecast for 2016 was only marginally lower than the previous month, despite growing concerns about the health of the global economy.
Anemic economic growth coupled with resilient U.S. and robust OPEC production levels have pushed crude oil prices lower as the markets remains heavily favored toward the supply side. Crude oil prices were supported somewhat by data from the American Petroleum Institute that show U.S. crude oil stocks rose just over 700,000 barrels last week, sharply lower than levels reported in January.
Brent crude recovered some ground from losses earlier this week to gain nearly 1 percent at the open in New York to sell for $30.62 per barrel. West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark price for crude oil, moved lower by about 1.1 percent to start the day at $27.63 per barrel.
On the economic front, OPEC said it lowered its forecast for global economic growth for 2016, with China leading the declines. The economies of Brazil and Russia, OPEC added, may dip into recession for the second straight year.
In her prepared remarks to the House Committee on Financial Service, Federal Reserve Chairperson Janet Yellen said inflation was running lower than the goal of 2 percent, largely because of the steep decline in oil prices.
"Financial conditions in the United States have recently become less supportive of growth," she said.