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Oil prices fell in cautious trade on Thursday ahead of the Christmas break.

Benchmark Brent crude edged down 0.1 percent to $51.19 a barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were down 0.2 percent at $48.05.

Both contracts gained over 2 percent on Wednesday as draws in U.S. inventories of crude, gasoline and distillates stoked hopes of a return in fuel demand.

Concerns surrounding the resurgence of the coronavirus pandemic and a suggestion by U.S. President Donald Trump that he might not sign a stimulus bill into law weighed on prices today, while the downside remained capped by a decline in U.S. crude inventories and Brexit trade deal hopes.

Data from Energy Information Administration (EIA) showed crude inventories in the U.S. fell by 562,000 barrels in the week ended December 18. Gasoline stockpiles were down by 1.1 million barrels last week, while distillate stocks dropped by 2.3 million barrels, the report showed.

Brexit talks have taken place through the night and reports suggest that a trade deal is imminent just a week before the transition period ends.

A last minute hitch related to fishing has delayed the agreement and an announcement is expected later in the day, Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney reportedly said.


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