Crude oil futures edged lower to Rs 2,968 per barrel on October 16 as participants increased their short positions on fading US stimulus hopes, OPEC’s production policy and rising coronavirus cases in the US and Europe.

Mohammad Barkindo, Secretary General, Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, said demand was recovering more slowly than expected and OPEC+ will ensure oil prices do not plunge steeply again when it meets at the end of November.

The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported that US crude inventories fell by 3.81 million barrels for the week-ended October 9.

The number of American filing new claims for jobless benefits rose last week to a two-month high by 53,000 to a seasonally adjusted 898,000 for the week ended October 10.

West Texas Intermediate crude was down 1.12 percent at $40.50 per barrel, while Brent crude, the London-based international benchmark, eased 1.25 percent to $42.62 per barrel.

MCX iCOMDEX Crude Oil Index dropped 31.29 points, or 0.89 percent, to 3,470.52 at 15:51 hours.

“Crude may witness choppy trade amid mixed factors, but the general bias may be on the downside owing to demand concerns,” said Ravindra Rao, VP-Head Commodity Research, at Kotak Securities.

In the futures market, crude oil for October delivery touched an intraday high of Rs 2,994 and a low of Rs 2,952 per barrel on the Multi-Commodity Exchange (MCX). So far in the current series, black gold has touched a low of Rs 2,718 and a high of Rs 3,320.

Crude oil futures for October delivery slipped Rs 26, or 0.87 percent, to Rs 2,968 per barrel at 15:53 hours IST on a business turnover of 4,307 lots. The same for November delivery fell Rs 26, or 0.86 percent, to Rs 2,996 per barrel on a business volume of 290 lots.

The value of October and November’s contracts traded so far is Rs 886.93 crore and Rs 8.85 crore, respectively.