Oil prices eased slightly on Thursday as weak data from the world’s top economies raised concern about the outlook for global fuel demand.
Uncertainty over the strength of any decline in US oil output also weighed.
The larger economic picture offset data that showed a large drawdown in US crude stockpiles last week.
June Brent crude was trading 10 cents down at $66.71 a barrel as of 0917 GMT. US crude for June delivery, at $60.20, was 30 cents lower.
China, the world’s top energy consumer, saw its economy losing more steam in April despite easier monetary policy, while Europe’s largest economy, Germany, slowed in the first quarter. In the United States, retail sales were flat in April, dampening hopes of a sharp rebound in growth in the second quarter.
“We’re just taking a bit of a breather today,” said Christopher Bellew, a trader with Jefferies Bache. “Where we are now is probably coming back down.”
Crude stocks in the United States fell for the second week, by 2.2 million barrels, following four months of steady gains. Analysts had expected crude inventories to rise by 386,000 barrels.
Despite the drop, stockpiles were still almost 90 million barrels higher than this time last year. A surprise increase in output in the No. 2 US oil-producing state, North Dakota, in March also added to supply concerns.
The data has raised concerns that US production has not been hit as hard by the precipitous decline in oil prices since June last year as some had thought.
“Saudi Arabia might be declaring victory on the back of the drop of drilling rigs in the U.S., but the Department of Energy weekly data is not yet showing any significant drop of production,” PetroMatrix’s Olivier Jakob said in a note.
The International Energy Agency warned on Tuesday that the global oil glut is building.
Still, the market remained split as speculative bets on higher prices pushed oil to 2015 highs last week. A weaker dollar, forecasts of lower U.S. output and stockpiling across Asia had also supported prices.