Oil edged higher within its range as geopolitical risk in the Middle East was offset by a report showing stockpiles expanded in the US.
Brent crude hovered near $79 a barrel after climbing 1.6% over the previous two sessions. The Houthis said they targeted two ships in the southern Red Sea, the latest in a string of attacks that has forced a major re-routing of global trade. The US has vowed more strikes against Iranian forces and their proxies in the region.
The industry-funded American Petroleum Institute said US nationwide crude inventories rose 674,000 barrels last week, including a rise at the Cushing, Oklahoma, hub, according to people familiar with the data. Official figures are due later Wednesday.
Crude is only slightly higher than it was at the start of the year, with the Middle East war premium and rising transport costs largely canceled out by a mixed macroeconomic outlook. The lackluster price moves are belying a boom in oil derivatives trading, with aggregate open interest across the main futures contracts rising to the highest since March 2022.
“It continues to remain a narrow, range-driven market for crude,” said Keshav Lohiya, founder of consultant Oilytics. “One of the biggest reasons behind the oil markets absorbing all these geopolitical risk premiums has been the silent supply growth from non-OPEC countries.”
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