Oil prices were steady on Thursday as China announced it would take an unprecedented step to release state oil reserves of crude oil to ease pressure on domestic refiners, potentially undercutting demand from elsewhere. Brent crude was down 2 cents to $72.58 a barrel at 1420 GMT, while West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude rose 2 cents to $69.32. The surprise Chinese move aims, according to the National Food and Strategic Reserves Administration, to "better stabilize domestic market supply and demand and effectively guarantee the country's energy security"
China, the world's biggest crude oil importer, is famously secretive about its strategic petroleum reserve. It has repeatedly taken steps to cool a rally in the price of key commodities this year, even auctioning off state metal reserves for the first time in more than a decade to try and keep manufacturers' costs down. Even so, factory gate inflation hit a 13-year high in August, data published earlier on Thursday showed.
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