Oil prices drop as U.S. inventory build-up, OPEC rift stresses market

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Global crude oil prices fell on Wednesday, following their biggest successive quarterly and monthly losses, due to a largely expected rise in U.S. supply and a heightened conflict within OPEC.

Oil prices have dropped close to their lowest since 2002 as the coronavirus crisis brought the global economy to a slowdown and weakened oil demand.

Crude futures closed the quarter with almost 70% record losses in March.

Brent crude fell 1.8%, or 47 cents, at $25.88 per barrel. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude climbed 0.6%, or 12 cents, at $20.6 per barrel. 

U.S. crude inventories increased by 10.5 million barrels last week, outdoing a 4 million barrel build-up estimate, according to American Petroleum Institute.

Worldwide, coronavirus infections reached 851,000, with a death toll of 42,000.

The gloomy mood in the market was worsened by a conflict in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. One of the world’s top oil producers, Saudi Arabia, and other OPEC members failed to come to an agreement on weakening oil prices. 

Adding to the pressure, sources claimed that U.S. officials are dismissing a proposed alliance with Saudi Arabia in handling the global oil market.

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