Oil prices fell on Thursday amid concerns about the US debt ceiling impasse and as Russia played down the chances of further Opec+ production cuts.
Brent, the benchmark for two thirds of the world’s oil, was trading 1.79 per cent lower at $76.95 a barrel at 3.40pm UAE time on Thursday.
West Texas Intermediate, the benchmark for US crude, was down 1.96 per cent at $72.88 a barrel.
On Wednesday, Brent settled 1.98 per cent higher at $78.36 while WTI was up 1.96 per cent at $74.34 a barrel.
“Crude has been dragged down as debt ceiling talks are still hung up on spending, but the supply and demand side drivers are slowly turning bullish here,” said Edward Moya, a senior market analyst at Oanda.
The US is days away from a potential debt default, which would wreak havoc on US consumers and the American economy, as well as send shock waves across the entire global financial system.
US President Joe Biden's administration and Republicans are currently at an impasse over raising the federal $31.4 trillion debt ceiling, with each side describing another's proposals as too extreme.
Meanwhile, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said he expected no new steps from the Opec+ group of 23 oil-producing countries at its meeting on June 4, Reuters reported on Thursday, citing his interview with Russian newspaper Izvestia daily.
“I don't think that there will be any new steps because just a month ago certain decisions were made regarding the voluntary reduction of oil production by some countries due to the fact that we saw the slow pace of global economic recovery,” Mr Novak was quoted as saying.
Brent has lost about 10 per cent of its value since the beginning of the year amid demand concerns and a regional banking crisis in the US, which rattled financial markets.
The international benchmark rose to about $85 a barrel in April after some Opec+ members announced combined voluntary production cuts of 1.16 million barrels per day.
The group slashed its collective output by 2 million bpd last year in response to signs of a global economic slowdown.
On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia's Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman told oil market short sellers to “watch out” as traders turn bearish on concerns about the fuel demand outlook.
“I keep advising them that they will be 'ouching'. They did 'ouch' in April,” said Prince Abdulaziz.
Meanwhile, US crude stocks, an indicator of fuel demand, fell by 12.5 million barrels in the week ending on May 19, according to the US Energy Information Administration.
Total petroleum stocks fell by 2.1 million barrels while distillate fuel inventories were down by 600,000 barrels, the data showed.