West Texas Intermediate traded near the lowest price in a week amid speculation a government report will show crude stockpiles increased in the U.S., the world’s biggest oil consumer.
Futures were little changed in New York after declining for a second session yesterday. Crude inventories probably climbed by 2 million barrels last week, according to a Bloomberg News survey before data from the Energy Information Administration tomorrow. Gasoline supplies increased while distillate stockpiles fell, the survey shows.
“We have plenty to move the market this week, starting with the inventory data,” said Michael McCarthy, a chief strategist at CMC Markets in Sydney who predicts investors may sell WTI contracts at about $98 a barrel. “Energy markets have risen quite strongly and a healthy pullback is normal.”
WTI for March delivery was at $96.12 a barrel, up 40 cents, in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange at 4:25 p.m. Singapore time. The contract fell 1 percent to $95.72 yesterday, the lowest price since Jan. 21. The volume of all futures traded was about 30 percent below the 100-day average. Prices rose 2.4 percent last week, a second weekly advance.
Brent for March settlement rose 54 cents, or 0.5 percent, to $107.23 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. The European benchmark crude was at a premium of $11.11 to WTI, compared with $10.97 yesterday.
Oil prices from $100 to $110 a barrel are acceptable to both producers and consumers, Abdalla El-Badri, the secretary-general of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, said in London yesterday. The market is balanced and comfortable, with stockpiles at healthy levels, he said.
U.S. gasoline supplies probably rose by 1.7 million barrels last week, according to the median of seven analyst estimates in the Bloomberg survey. Distillates, a category that includes heating oil and diesel, shrank by 2.5 million.
The industry-funded American Petroleum Institute is scheduled to release separate inventory data today. The API in Washington collects supply 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.