Oil held gains before US government data forecast to show crude stockpiles fell in the world’s biggest consumer.
Futures rose 0.7 percent in New York. Crude inventories probably declined by 1.63 million barrels through July 31 for a second weekly drop, according to a Bloomberg survey of analysts before an Energy Information Administration report Wednesday. The new head of Libya’s state oil company for the eastern region is considering resuming exports from the nation’s two largest ports and will seek to boost production.
Oil is still trading near the lowest price in almost five months after falling 21 percent in July on signs a global supply glut is persisting. US crude stockpiles remain close to 100 million barrels above the five-year seasonal average, while members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries are pumping more to defend market share.
“There is a little bit of buying interest before the inventory data, but overall the market is bearish,” Michael Hewson, senior analyst at London-based CMC Markets Plc, said by e-mail. “Supply and demand dynamics remain in favor of supply.”
West Texas Intermediate for September delivery climbed as much as 58 cents to $46.32 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange and was at $46.04 at 11:57 a.m. London time. The contract gained 57 cents to $45.74 on Tuesday. Total volume was 9 percent below the 100-day average. Prices have slid 14 percent this year.
Brent for September settlement advanced as much as 69 cents, or 1.4 percent, to $50.68 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. It rose 47 cents to $49.99 on Tuesday. The European benchmark grade traded at a premium of $4.32 to WTI.
U.S. crude inventories decreased to 459.7 million barrels through July 24, the lowest level since March, according to the EIA. U.S. production averaged 9.41 million barrels a day during the week, the lowest in more than two months.
Libya plans to lift force majeure at its Es Sider and Ras Lanuf ports, which were closed in December amid militia attacks, Nagi Elmagrabi, chairman of the National Oil Corp. for the eastern region, said Tuesday. Tribal and political disputes have almost completely halted onshore crude output in the western region.
The North African country is OPEC’s smallest producer with 380,000 barrels a day of output, data compiled by Bloomberg show. The group’s two leading members, Saudi Arabia and Iraq, pumped at a record in July.
The Bloomberg Commodity Index of 22 raw materials slumped about 11 percent last month, the most since September 2011. It’s rising for a second day on Wednesday.