Brent Holds Gain as OPEC Leaves Quota Unchanged

Brent crude held its gain after OPEC kept its production target unchanged and West Texas Intermediate was little changed in New York amid speculation that U.S. inventories dropped last week.

Futures rose 0.3 percent in London as OPEC ministers in Vienna left the group’s output ceiling unchanged at 30 million barrels a day. Crude stockpiles probably dropped by 2 million barrels last week to 387.5 million, a Bloomberg News survey shows before Energy Information Administration data today. In Iraq, a breakaway al-Qaeda group took control of the city of Mosul and there were conflicting reports about the situation in Baiji, home to the nation’s biggest refinery.

“There were no surprises with OPEC but the deteriorating situation in Iraq could start to have an effect at the margins,” Michael Hewson, a London-based market analyst at CMC Markets, said by e-mail.

Brent for July settlement gained 37 cents to $109.89 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange at 1:15 p.m. London time. Prices have decreased 0.8 percent this year.

WTI for July delivery was at $104.46 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, up 11 cents. The volume of all futures traded was about 19 percent below the 100-day average for the time of day. The European benchmark crude traded at a premium of $5.50 to WTI. The spread narrowed for a third day yesterday to close at $5.17.

Output Ceiling

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries reaffirmed the ceiling for a fifth consecutive meeting, Diezani Alison-Madueke, Nigeria’s Petroleum Minister, said today in Vienna. The group forecasts demand for its crude of 30.4 million barrels a day in the coming six months, while its 12 members produced 29.6 million barrels a day in April, the organization’s data show.

U.S. crude stockpiles expanded by 1.5 million barrels in the week ended June 6, the industry-funded American Petroleum Institute reported yesterday, according to, a newswire. Supplies were at 399.4 million through April 25, the most since the Energy Department’s statistical arm started publishing weekly data in 1982.

Gasoline inventories shrank by 440,000 barrels, said the API, which collects information on a voluntary basis from operators of refineries, bulk terminals and pipelines. The EIA report will probably show a gain of 1 million, according to the median estimate in the Bloomberg survey.

China Crude

The al-Qaeda group are in position to seize Iraqi energy infrastructure after taking control of Mosul in a strike that highlights Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s weakening grip on the country.

The “shocking escalation” in violence in Iraq raises the prospect of output losses, Helima Croft, head of North American commodities research at Barclays Plc, said by e-mail yesterday.

In China, the world’s second-largest oil consumer is hoarding crude at the fastest pace in at least a decade, shielding itself from supply disruptions. Its oil imports are helping drive prices higher, according to Barclays Plc, Citigroup Inc. and Nomura Holdings Inc.

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