West Texas Intermediate crude fell for the first time in three days as orders for U.S. durable goods dropped more than forecast in July and Libya restarted exports from a previously closed port.
Prices slipped 0.5 percent after the Commerce Department said bookings for goods meant to last at least three years decreased 7.3 percent, the most since August 2012. Exports resumed from Brega, one of four ports where force majeure was declared on Aug. 18, according to officials in Tripoli.
“Fundamentally, we should be lower,” said Tariq Zahir, a New York-based commodity fund manager at Tyche Capital Advisors. “Some of the economic numbers aren’t looking good. Exports from Libya are picking up a little bit and that put pressure on the market.”
WTI for October delivery slid 50 cents to end at $105.92 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The volume of all futures was less than half the 100-day average for the time of day. Prices are up 15 percent in 2013.
Brent for October slipped 31 cents, or 0.3 percent, to settle at $110.73 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. Volume was 62 percent below the 100-day average as the U.K. markets were shut for a bank holiday. The price reached $111.68 in intraday trading, a four-month high. Brent’s premium over WTI widened to $4.81 a barrel.
The drop in durable-goods orders was bigger than the 4 percent decline forecast by economists surveyed by Bloomberg. Orders excluding transportation equipment fell 0.6 percent, the Commerce Department said.
“The durable-goods report is disappointing,” said Gene McGillian, an analyst and broker at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut.
The tanker Vallesina departed Brega two days ago for Italy with 630,000 barrels of crude, Ibrahim Al Awami, director of measurement at Libya’s oil ministry, said in a telephone interview yesterday. Deputy Oil Minister Omar Shakmak said by phone that it’s the first export from Brega since the Aug. 22 lifting of the force majeure.
Es Sider, the North African nation’s largest port, Ras Lanuf and Zueitina remain shut, Awami said. Brega may add 90,000 barrels a day to current shipments of 500,000 from the nation, a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
“The Libya news is negative for the market,” said Bill Baruch, a senior market strategist at Iitrader.com in Chicago.
The country’s oil output averaged 640,000 barrels a day in August, Deputy Oil Minister Omar Shakmak said today in a phone interview from Tripoli. Libya produced 800,000 barrels a day of crude last month, half the rate pumped a year earlier, according to a Bloomberg survey of output from the 12-member OPEC. Libya holds Africa’s largest oil reserves.
WTI gained earlier on speculation that tension in Syria will affect Middle East supplies. Conflicts in Syria and unrest in Egypt have raised concern that larger oil-exporting nations in the Middle East will be affected.
World leaders denounced what they said was the use of chemical weapons by Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad and called for action as United Nations inspectors attempted to probe the allegations.
“Syria is still in the news and leading the headlines,” Baruch said.
Egypt’s military-backed government has killed almost a thousand people in the last two weeks and placed Cairo under curfew. The government has lined roads with soldiers, bridges with tanks, and some roofs with snipers.
Money managers reduced net-long positions in WTI crude, or wagers that prices will increase, by 2 percent to 302,762 futures and options combined in the seven days ended Aug. 20, according to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s weekly report on Aug. 23.
Hedge funds and other speculators boosted net-longs in Brent crude to 208,313 lots in the same period, from 193,527 in the week to Aug. 13, according to data from ICE Futures Europe.
Implied volatility for at-the-money WTI options expiring in October was 20.8 percent, little changed from Aug. 23, data compiled by Bloomberg showed.
Electronic trading volume on the Nymex was 260,544 contracts as of 2:35 p.m. It totaled 523,035 contracts yesterday, 19 percent below the three-month average. Open interest was 1.83 million contracts.