Oil held near a three-year high ahead of U.S. inventory data that’s expected to show a ninth week of crude-stockpile declines.
Futures were little changed in New York after rising 0.4 percent on Wednesday. The American Petroleum Institute estimates stocks fell by 5.12 million barrels last week, a steeper drop than the 3.15 million forecast in a Bloomberg survey before Energy Information Administration data due Thursday. OPEC’s outlook for rival supply expanded, the group said in its monthly report, the latest in a series of boosts to estimates for American production.
Oil is extending its run after two consecutive annual gains as the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies including Russia curb supplies. While the cuts are gradually shrinking a global surplus, OPEC said rising prices are boosting production in North America. The International Energy Agency, which releases its monthly report on Friday, may also increase its estimates for U.S. output, said Executive Director Fatih Birol.
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“The market will want to see whether the EIA report can match the API’s crude draw and whether overall inventories are falling,” said Giovanni Staunovo, commodity analyst at UBS Group AG. “After last week’s drop, the crude production data will be interesting too.”
West Texas Intermediate for February delivery was at $64.05 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, up 8 cents, at 8:25 a.m. in New York. Total volume traded was about 16 percent below the 100-day average.
Brent for March settlement fell 1 cent to $69.37 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange after gaining 0.3 percent on Wednesday. The global benchmark crude traded at a premium of $5.38 to WTI for the same month.
U.S. gasoline inventories probably rose by 3.99 million barrels last week, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey. In the preceding week, total crude and product stockpiles fell to 1.2 billion barrels, the seventh drop in the last eight weeks, according to EIA data.