Oil above $91 a barrel ahead of United States inventory data
SINGAPORE: Oil steadied above $91 a barrel on Wednesday ahead of U.S. inventory data expected to show a drawdown in crude and distillate stocks due to severe weather in the world's largest oil user. NYMEX crude for February delivery nudged three cents higher to $91.52 a barrel by 0731 GMT (2:31 a.m. ET), while ICE Brent crude traded unchanged at $94.38.
U.S. oil prices climbed to a 26-month high of $91.88 on Monday, driven by a broad spectrum of factors ranging from the dollar and cold weather to OPEC and surging global fuel demand.
"Investors are especially keen to follow whatever factor is most supportive of prices moving higher," said analysts at Cameron Hanover in a research note. Bullish money managers have stormed into the oil market, setting a fresh record high for net long crude positions on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Oil's rally looked all the more secure due to rhetoric from several OPEC ministers, who have signaled $100 was a fair price. Crude's rise, however, took a breather early Wednesday on forecasts for warmer temperatures in the snow-slammed U.S. Northeast, curbing demand in the world's top heating oil market. "Oil is tracking the cold weather in the Northeast of the United States and also the dollar against the euro," said Tetsu Emori, a fund manager at Tokyo-based Astmax Co Ltd.
The icy weather has boosted distillate needs, which includes heating oil and diesel fuel, and U.S. stocks were expected to have fallen 500,000 barrels last week, a Reuters poll showed. Crude inventories in the world's biggest economy were pegged to have fallen 2.9 million barrels, while gasoline stocks were seen up 1.5 million barrels. -Ap
BEIJING: Soppers walk around Christmas decorations at a shopping mall. China solidified its financial might in 2010, becoming the world's second-largest economy, but it was often inflexible and isolated on the political stage --an intransigence typified by the Nobel peace prize drama. -Ap