West Texas Intermediate fell for a second day after industry data showed U.S. inventories rose for a fourth week, the longest run of gains since February. China’s oil stockpiles climbed for a second month.
Futures slid as much as 0.9 percent in New York after a report from the American Petroleum Institute showed crude stockpiles increased 532,000 barrels last week. Government figures today are projected to show a 1 million-barrel decline, according to a Bloomberg News survey of analysts. The API also indicated gains in gasoline and distillate-fuel supplies, including heating oil and diesel.
“The API numbers were bearish across the board,” said Carsten Fritsch, an analyst at Commerzbank AG in Frankfurt, who predicts Brent crude, the European benchmark, will average $105 a barrel this quarter. “Rising crude oil supplies, falling refinery utilization and rising gasoline stocks: This is the main reason why the oil complex is lower today.”
WTI for July delivery fell as much as 84 cents to $95.34 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange and was at $95.90 at 1:28 p.m. London time. The volume of all contracts traded was 21 percent below the 100-day average. June futures expired yesterday after declining 55 cents, or 0.6 percent, to $96.16, the first drop in five days.
Brent for July settlement decreased as much as 99 cents, or 1 percent, to $102.92 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. The European benchmark grade was at a premium of $7.63 to WTI. The spread narrowed for a fourth day yesterday to $7.73 a barrel.
U.S. gasoline stockpiles rose 3 million barrels last week, according to the API. The Energy Information Administration report today may show a decline of 300,000 barrels, according to the median estimate of 11 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Distillate supplies climbed 459,000 barrels, compared with a forecast 1 million-barrel gain in the survey.
The EIA is scheduled to release its weekly petroleum report at 10:30 a.m. in Washington.
“The market wants to see inventory draws and the evidence that oil is being consumed,” said Jonathan Barratt, chief executive officer of Barratt’s Bulletin, a commodity newsletter in Sydney. “If we do see a stockpile build tonight, I think we’ll see prices head to the downside,” he said, predicting that investors may buy contracts at about $92.50 a barrel.
Crude inventories at Cushing, Oklahoma, the delivery point for WTI contracts and the biggest U.S. storage hub, advanced 471,000 barrels for a second week of gains, the API data show.
The 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 EIA, the Energy Department’s statistical arm, for its weekly survey.
China’s crude inventories rose 0.1 percent in April from a month earlier, China Oil, Gas & Petrochemicals, a newsletter published by the official Xinhua News agency, reported today. Stockpiles climbed to 28.7 million metric tons, a three-month high, according to Bloomberg calculations.
China is the world’s second-largest oil consumer, accounting for 11 percent of global demand in 2011, according to BP Plc’s Statistical Review of World Energy. The U.S. is the biggest user at 21 percent.
Brent snapped a four-day rising streak yesterday after failing to breach its 50-day moving average, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Futures have traded higher than this indicator, about $104.81 a barrel today, the past two days without settling above it. Sell orders tend to be clustered near technical-resistance levels.