After the rally which pushed prices to the highest level since January 2020, before the coronavirus crisis, oil markets paused on Wednesday. For the fifth week in a row, the news of a further fall in weekly U.S. crude inventories was not enough to boost rates. U.S. light crude WTI (February futures contract on Nymex) gave up 0.6 percent to $52.91 a barrel, while North Sea Brent crude dropped 0.9 percent to $56.06.
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Commercial oil inventories (excluding strategic reserves) decreased by 3.2 million barrels in the week ended January 8, 2021, marginally more than expected by industry consensus (-3 million barrels). Gasoline reserves, however, rose by 4.4 million barrels relative to the estimated 2.7 million barrels, and inventories of distilled fuels (including diesel and domestic fuel oil) have increased by 4.8 million barrels, much more than the industry estimate of 2.6 million barrels.
Gold rebounded on Wednesday, with the February Comex futures contract finishing up 0.6 percent at $1,854.90. Bitcoin settled over 24 hours at about $35,700 per unit, up 2 percent.
On the political front ahead of the inauguration of Joe Biden on January 20, Wall Street is still tracking the social environment, which may be followed by more aggression from pro-Trump backers opposing the results of the November 6 election. In the run-up to the inauguration, the police and the FBI were worried about the possibility of armed demonstrations as early as 16 January. In Washington and the United States, a state of emergency was proclaimed. It was approved by the National Guard to send up to 15,000 members to the federal capital.
Facebook said on Wednesday it had seen an upsurge of early signs of violence associated with the threat to the results of the U.S. election. A social network spokeswoman (which briefly removed the accounts of Donald Trump) said several individuals are looking to stage protests across the United States and on dates similar to the inauguration of Joe Biden on January 20. The source said Facebook spotted the publication of digital flyers from militias and organizations calling for a new uprising.
According to an email to advertisers, cited by ‘Reuters’, Google (a subsidiary of Alphabet) has agreed to stop political advertising on all its sites from 14 January. Furthermore, Google-owned YouTube removed the channel of the outgoing US president for “at least seven days” on Tuesday and deleted a video on charges of violating its policy against inciting violence.