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Crude trades lower as US stock build, coronavirus infections weigh

Singapore — 0242 GMT: Crude oil futures were lower in mid-morning trade in Asia Sept. 23 as a build in US inventories and concerns over rising coronavirus infections in Europe weighed on the demand outlook.

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At 10.42 am Singapore time (0242 GMT), ICE Brent November crude futures were down 39 cents/b (0.93%) from the Sept. 22 settle at $41.33/b, while the NYMEX November light sweet crude contract was 41 cents/b (1.03%) lower at $39.39/b.

Both markers had been trending higher prior to the American Petroleum Institute reporting late Sept. 22 that US crude oil inventories rose 691,000 barrels in the week ending Sept. 18, sharply changing course after a 9.517 million-barrel draw the week before.

A marked resurgence in coronavirus infections in Europe was also stoking bearish sentiment, OANDA Senior Market Analyst Edward Moya said in a Sept. 23 note. "It is hard to be constructive about oil prices as governments for most European advanced economies appear ready to reinstate lockdown measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus," he said.

AXI Chief Global Markets Strategist Stephen Innes said in a Sept. 23 note: "The oil demand recovery may have gone as far as it can in the absence of a vaccine, as daily virus case growth has remained high in Latin America, the US, and India, and is rising again in Europe."

On the supply side, analysts downplayed concerns over the lifting of an eight-month blockade on Libya's National Oil Corp, saying oil production from Libyan facilities was unlikely to recover immediately to the pre-blockade level.

"It seems unlikely that Libyan production will rebound as quickly as it has in previous periods as the latest pictures from the war-ravaged facilities would suggest there is a high level of damage to production and transport infrastructure," Innes said.