Environment

Enbridge Energy’s storage facility in Cushing, Oklahoma.
Justin Sullivan | CNBC

Crude oil futures were slightly lower Thursday as a senior Israeli official sees initial signs of progress toward a deal to release hostages held in Gaza and as the market awaits for U.S. inventory data.

The West Texas Texas Intermediate contract fell 47 cents, or 0.6%, to $77.44 a barrel. The Brent contract for April dropped 53 cents, or 0.64%, to $82.50 a barrel.

Israel war cabinet member Benny Gantz said Wednesday that efforts to “promote a new outline” to secure the release of hostages “indicate the possibility of moving forward.”

White House Middle East envoy Brett McGurk will meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Thursday to discuss efforts to free hostages held by Hamas.

A temporary ceasefire in exchange for releasing hostages in Gaza would potentially reduce the risk of the conflict engulfing the Middle East and disrupting crude supplies.

The U.S. Energy Information Agency will release its weekly petroleum supply report at 10:30 a.m. EST.

Futures are down less than 1% week to date, after crude rallied last week on escalating tensions in the Middle East. U.S. crude has gained 8.5% for the year while the global benchmark has added 7.57%.

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