Oil trades near five-week high
West Texas Intermediate oil traded near the highest level in five weeks. U.S. crude inventories probably rose as domestic output stayed near the strongest in two decades, a Bloomberg News survey showed.
Futures were little changed after advancing a second day yesterday. Crude stockpiles increased by 1.4 million barrels to 384.1 million last week, the highest since June, according to the median of seven analyst estimates before an Energy Information Administration report tomorrow. Domestic production was 7.15 million barrels a day in the prior week, 9,000 less than the 21-year high reached in the seven days ended March 8. "The market's been watching the U.S. reserves quite closely, which have been climbing somewhat, as domestic production has been coming on stream and demand has remained relatively flat," said David Lennox, an analyst at Fat Prophets in Sydney who predicts WTI will struggle to rise above $95 a barrel for the rest of this year. "Barring any supply shock events, we believe the topside will be somewhat limit- ed." WTI for May delivery was at $94.98 a barrel, up 17 cents, in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange at 4:09 p.m. in Singapore. The volume of all futures traded was 41 percent below the 100-day average for the time of day. The contract rose $1.10 to $94.81 yesterday, the highest close since Feb. 19. Prices have advanced 3.5 percent this year.
Brent oil for May settlement was down 40 cent at $107.77 a barrel on the Londonbased ICE Futures Europe exchange. The volume of all futures traded was 61 percent below the 100-day average. Prices are down 2.9 percent in 2013. The European benchmark crude's premium to WTI was at $12.85. It closed at $13.36 yesterday, the least since July.
U.S. gasoline stockpiles probably slid by 1 million barrels last week to 221.8 million, according to the Bloomberg survey before the report by the Energy Information Administration, the Energy Department's statistical arm.
Gasoline consumption dropped 3.5 percent in the week ended March 15 to 8.32 million barrels a day, least since Jan. 11, EIA data show.