Oil prices edged up on Wednesday after a steep drop in United States crude inventories, but another record day for COVID-19 cases worldwide kept gains in check.
Brent crude was up by 24 cents, or 0.6%, at $43.46 a barrel, after dropping 0.4% on Tuesday. US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures gained 42 cents, or 1%, to US$41.46 a barrel.
USA crude oil inventories fell by 10.6 million barrels last week to 526 million barrels, the Energy Information Administration said, in their largest drawdown since December.
Analysts' expectations were for an increase of 357,000 barrels. USA government data is due later today.
"This should temporarily alleviate some concerns about ongoing demand distress", Stephen Innes, chief global markets strategist at AxiCorp said in a note.
A record number of new coronavirus infections were reported globally, while in the United States, deaths from the novel coronavirus were approaching 150,000, the highest level in the world and rising by 10,000 in 11 days, according to a Reuters tally.
Six US states reported one-day records for coronavirus deaths yesterday and cases in Texas passed the 400,000 mark.
Attempts to provide relief amid the outbreak were in disarray as Republicans in the USA disagreed over their own plan for providing US$1 trillion in new coronavirus aid yesterday.
In Hong Kong, the government on Wednesday warned the city is on the edge of a large-scale coronavirus outbreak and urged people to stay indoors as much as possible.
Indian refiners are cutting crude processing and shutting units for maintenance as fuel demand falters, officials at the companies said.
Analysts are concerned about the risks to any US recovery, while a new US Federal Reserve (Fed) policy statement due to be released later this afternoon will show how seriously central bankers assess them.