Oil Fluctuates in New York as U.S. Crude Stockpiles Seen Rising

Oil fluctuated in New York after falling for a fifth time in six days before a report that may show inventories climbed in the U.S., the biggest crude user.

Futures pared earlier gains of as much as 0.5 percent after sliding 1 percent yesterday. U.S. crude supplies probably rose 2 million barrels last week for the longest run of increases since May, according to a Bloomberg survey before an Energy Department report tomorrow. The American Petroleum Institute will release separate inventory data today.

“There’s ample supply in the market,” said Jonathan Barratt, the chief executive officer of Barratt’s Bulletin, a commodity newsletter in Sydney. “The market is becoming lethargic as pessimism engulfs people’s views. I’m not really comfortable being long.”

Oil for November delivery rose 10 cents to $92.03 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange at 2:48 p.m. Singapore time. It earlier gained as much as 45 cents to $92.38. The contract fell to $91.93 yesterday, the lowest close since Sept. 20. Prices are down 6.9 percent this year.

Brent crude for November settlement fell 11 cents to $109.70 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. The European benchmark grade’s premium to West Texas Intermediate was at $17.66, from $17.88 yesterday.

“The upside will be limited because still we have the pressure” of traders selling contracts to close bets on rising prices, said Ken Hasegawa, a sales manager at Newedge Group in Tokyo who predicts West Texas Intermediate crude has support at $91 a barrel.

U.S. Stockpiles

U.S. oil supplies probably rose for a third week in the seven days ended Sept. 21 as output rebounded after Hurricane Isaac, according to the median estimate of nine analysts in the Bloomberg survey. Inventories probably climbed to 369.6 million barrels, which would leave them at the highest level since the week ended Aug. 3. Seven of the respondents forecast a gain and two projected a decline.

Supplies surged 2.4 percent in the week ended Sept. 14, the biggest increase since March, as production and imports jumped after Isaac. The hurricane shut most Gulf of Mexico platforms and ports as it made final landfall in Louisiana on Aug. 29. Crude stockpiles have dropped during September in nine of the past 10 years as refiners started maintenance programs.

Gasoline stockpiles probably climbed 500,000 barrels last week, according to the survey. Distillate supplies, a category that includes heating oil and diesel, likely rose 900,000 barrels.

Gasoline Prices

The industry-funded API collects stockpile information on a voluntary basis from operators of refineries, bulk terminals and pipelines. The government requires that reports be filed with the Energy Department for its weekly survey.

Motor-fuel prices at U.S. pumps decreased for the first time in 12 weeks. The national average for regular gasoline fell 5.2 cents to $3.826 a gallon from a week earlier, the Energy Information Administration said in a report on the agency’s website. The price was up from $3.509 a year earlier.

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