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  • Upbeat trade data from China provide a boost to WTI on Thursday.
  • Saudi Arabia raised its official sale price for crude oil.
  • Top US oil producer expects crude oil recovery to continue.

Crude oil prices gained traction during the Asian session on Thursday and continued to push higher. The barrel of West Texas Intermediate (WTI), which lost 6% on Wednesday, rose all the way up to $27.77 but erased its gains during the American trading hours. As of writing, the WTI was down 3.8% on the day at $24.50.

Energy demand shows signs of life

According to Reuters’ calculations based on China’s General Administration of Customs’ data on Thursday, oil imports rose to 10.42 million barrels per day in April from 9.68 million in March, reviving hopes of a strong recovery in energy demand. 

Moreover, Saudi Arabia announced that it increased the official selling prices for all of its crude oil grades for June and provided an additional boost to the WTI. Meanwhile, Reuters reported that Pioneer Natural Resources, one of the top shale producers in the US, is expecting oil prices to recover to at least $45 per barrel by the end of 2020.

Nevertheless, the WTI reversed its direction despite a lack of fresh catalysts and fell sharply in the late US afternoon. Investors might be opting out to take their profits off the table ahead of tomorrow’s critical Nonfarm Payrolls data, which could revive demand concerns if the Unemployment Rate in the US rises more than expected in April.

Technical levels to watch for