LONDON,(B – Trams / Reuters) : Crude Oil prices were largely steady in volatile trading on Thursday as the market weighed concerns over global supply against a build in U.S. fuel product inventories.
Brent crude futures for September, the more actively traded contract, were up 28 cents, or 0.3%, at $112.73 a barrel by 0911 GMT. The August contract, which expires on Thursday, was down 11 cents, or 0.1%, at $116.15. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures rose 20 cents, or 0.2%, to $109.98.
Crude inventories fell by 2.8 million barrels in the week to June 24, U.S. Energy Information Administration data showed, far exceeding the 569,000 barrel drop forecast in a Reuters poll of analysts.
However, fuel stocks rose as refiners ramped up activity, operating at nearly full capacity, the highest at this time of year in four years.
“The net drop in crude oil inventories was flattered by SPR (Strategic Petroleum Reserve) releases, while the gasoline stock jump is because U.S. refineries are running at over 95% capacity,” said Jeffrey Halley, OANDA’s senior market analyst for Asia Pacific.
But further disruptions to supply limited price declines, said ANZ analysts, amid a suspension of Libyan shipments from two eastern ports while Ecuador output fell because of ongoing protests.
Exports of Ecuador’s Oriente crude remain suspended under a force majeure declaration as the spread of anti-government protests hurt oil output, state-run Petroecuador said on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the OPEC+ group of producers including Russia, began two days of meetings on Wednesday, though sources said there was little prospect of agreement to pump more oil.