Oil halted its slide near $48 a barrel as industry data showed US crude stockpiles declined again, further trimming an inventory surplus.
Futures rose 0.3 percent in New York after slipping a second session Tuesday. Inventories dropped by 9.2 million barrels last week, the American Petroleum Institute was said to report. If that is replicated in government data Wednesday, it would be the largest drop in almost a year. Output from Libya is rebounding as its biggest field boosts production and a port reopens.
Oil in New York has fluctuated this month in the narrowest range since August 2003 as investors weigh rising global supply against output cuts by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies. OPEC won’t clear the global glut any time soon since any increase in price continues to bolster rival production from US shale, according to the International Energy Agency.
“The search for price cues will now turn to an upcoming update concerning US oil stockpiles,” and “initial signs are encouraging” after the API data, said Stephen Brennock, an analyst at brokers PVM Oil Associates Ltd. in London. “More bullish catalysts will be needed if the oil market is to extricate itself from no man’s land.”
West Texas Intermediate for September delivery was at $47.70 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, up 14 cents, at 12:50 p.m. in London. Total volume traded was about 10 percent below the 100-day average. Prices lost 4 cents to $47.55 on Tuesday.
Brent for October settlement gained 21 cents, or 0.4 percent, to $51.01 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. Prices climbed 7 cents to $50.80 on Tuesday. The global benchmark crude traded at a premium of $3.17 to October WTI.
US gasoline stockpiles rose by 301,000 barrels last week, the API reported, according to people familiar with the data. Crude inventories probably fell by 3.38 million barrels, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey before an Energy Information Administration report Wednesday.
Crude production from Libya’s Sharara field increased to 230,000 barrels a day Tuesday from 200,000 on Sunday, according to a person familiar with the matter. Ecuador will limit output at its current level of 541,000 barrels a day to avoid undermining the OPEC-led cuts, Ecuadorian Oil Minister Carlos Perez said. China’s annual oil demand will peak at 690 million tons by 2030, or about 12 percent of the global total, according to China National Petroleum Corp.