Oil Pares Weekly Loss as Investors Weigh Price Decline, Supplies

Oil rose in New York, paring its third weekly decline in four, as speculation demand will recover countered concern over rising stockpiles in the U.S., the world’s biggest crude consumer.

Futures for March delivery traded near $90 a barrel as investors bought back contracts after prices dropped the most in two months yesterday. U.S. crude inventories ended six weeks of declines as refiners cut operating rates by the most since October 2009, the Energy Department reported yesterday.

“The market will be kept around these levels, with some correction from profit-taking,” said Ken Hasegawa, a Tokyo-based commodity derivative sales manager at Newedge, a broker. “Commodities are going down slightly but not losing too much ground.”

Crude for March rose as much as 30 cents, or 0.3 percent, to $89.89 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It was at $89.74 at 4:07 p.m. Singapore time. Prices slid 2.4 percent yesterday, the most since Nov. 16.

The contract has fallen 3 percent this week. The February contract expired yesterday after dropping 2.2 percent to $88.86, the lowest since Jan. 7.

U.S. crude inventories increased 2.62 million barrels to 335.7 million in the week ended Jan. 14, the Energy Department said yesterday. A median 500,000-barrel decline in stockpiles was forecast by 17 analysts in a Bloomberg News survey.

Refiners cut average operating rates by 3.4 percentage points to 83 percent of capacity, according to the department. Crude imports rose to the highest since December.

Oil Demand

Global oil demand will climb 1.4 million barrels a day, or 1.6 percent, to 89.1 million this year, the International Energy Agency said in its monthly report Jan. 18. The Paris-based adviser to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development upgraded its forecast for a fourth month.

Brent crude futures in London yesterday fell the most since November after trading for seven days within 2 percent of $100 a barrel. That price is “politically sensitive,” according to JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Brent for March settlement fell as much as 32 cents, or 0.3 percent, to $96.26 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. Yesterday, the contract dropped 1.6 percent to $96.58, the lowest close since Jan. 10.

“Brent has been unable to reach $100,” said Hasegawa at Newedge. “If this continues for a sustained period, there will be little buying mood.”

Drop Forecast

Oil in New York may fall next week on speculation China, the world’s largest energy user, will raise interest rates to combat inflation, slowing economic growth and fuel demand, according to a Bloomberg News survey.

Twenty-three of 40 analysts and traders, or 58 percent, forecast crude will decline through Jan. 28. Ten respondents, or 25 percent, predicted prices will climb and seven estimated little change. Last week, 43 percent said futures would retreat.

JPMorgan, the second-largest U.S. bank by assets, said oil investors should “pare risk and take some profits” on prospects the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries may unexpectedly increase production.

OPEC, a 12-member group that pumps 40 percent of the world’s crude, may boost output as prices in Asia and Africa surpass $100 a barrel for the first time in two years.

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