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.

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