New York, US (BBN) – Crude oil prices eased in Asia on Wednesday as industry figures showed a larger than expected build in US oil inventories, though gasoline supplies dropped more than expected limiting the downside movement.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange crude futures for May delivery dipped 0.27 per cent to $52.87 a barrel, while on London’s Intercontinental Exchange, Brent eased 0.73 per cent to $55.60 a barrel, reports
The American Petroleum Institute said Tuesday that crude inventories jumped 11.6 million barrels at the end of last week, far more than the expected 1.66 million barrels build seen, while gasoline stocks dropped 5.0 million barrels, compared to a dip of 1.28 million barrels forecast.
Distillate supplies eased 2.9 million barrels, compared to a 880,000 barrels draw seen, while stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, oil hub rose by 800,000 barrels.
The figures will be followed on Wednesday by more closely-watched official data from the US Energy Information Administration.
Ahead in Asia, China reports its February trade balance with oil imports figures expected to draw close attention from the world’s second largest buyer of crude from abroad.
Overnight, crude settled lower on Tuesday, after comments from Saudi Arabia’s oil minister seemed to dash hopes that the previously agreed production cut would be extended beyond the six-month period.
Saudi minister of energy, Khalid A. Al-Falih said Tuesday, Saudi Arabia will maintain its policy of managing production for “a restricted period of time” and added that it will not be good for the market if the United
States increases oil production too strongly in the next two years.
In November last year, OPEC and other producers, including Russia agreed to cut output by about 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) in an effort to combat the oversupply issue that has pressured prices over the last two years.
OPEC began implementing cuts of 1.16 million barrels per day at the start of this year for a period of six months.
Oil prices have traded in narrow $3 range since February, as investors weighed the efficacy of OPEC’s production cuts against rising levels of global oil production, especially in the United States, where crude stock piles hit a record high of 520.2 million barrels last Wednesday.