Oil prices steady after highs
US benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for June delivery dipped 13 cents to $60.80 a barrel.
Brent North Sea crude for June rose 23 cents to stand at $68.70 a barrel in London midday deals.
Brent had hit $69.63 and WTI reached $62.58 on Wednesday — the highest levels this year.
Crude stockpiles tumbled by 3.9 million barrels in the week to May 1. Analysts had expected an increase of 1.5 million barrels, according to a Bloomberg News poll.
Despite the decline, at 487.0 million barrels of crude, the stockpiles were at their highest level on record for this time of year.
And US crude-oil production slipped only marginally to 9.4 million barrels per day.
“Prices have come off because markets had been anticipating that US production numbers would have come down lower,” Daniel Ang, investment analyst at Phillip Futures, told AFP.
Weak US economic data released Wednesday was also weighing on oil prices, Ang said.
Non-farm productivity fell 1.9 percent in the first quarter year-on-year. It was the second straight quarterly fall.
Payroll firm ADP meanwhile reported the United States added just 169,000 private-sector jobs in April, the second month in a row under 200,000, as the oil sector downturn continued to pinch the labour market.
Sanjeev Gupta, head of the Asia-Pacific oil and gas practice at business consultancy EY, said “the short-term price outlook awaits the US weekly rig count to be released on Friday for a further gauge on supply levels”.