Oil loses ground after higher than expected increase in US stocks

Oil prices slipped in Asian trade on Wednesday after a US industry group reported crude stocks rose more than expected last week and as investors reined in expectations for interest rate cuts by the US Federal Reserve.

Brent futures fell 11c, or 0.13%, to $82.66 a barrel at 4.03am GMT. US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures fell 3c to $77.84 a barrel.

“The [price] rally has been cut short by the higher than expected US inflation print, which has the potential to push back the rate cut cycle,” said DBS Bank energy sector team lead Suvro Sarkar.

“In addition, inventory builds are likely to surprise on the upside this week, and an outage at the BP refinery in Whiting is also not helping matters on the demand side.”

US crude oil inventories rose 8.52-million barrels in the week ended February 9, according to market sources citing American Petroleum Institute figures released late on Tuesday.

The build was much bigger than the 2.6-million barrel increase that analysts polled by Reuters expected.

“The builds in crude oil were fairly bearish. However, this was offset by large product declines,” ING analysts said in a note, adding that the data probably was a reflection of the 435,000 barrels a day Whiting refinery outage.

The API data showed gasoline inventories fell 7.23-million barrels and distillate stocks fell by 4.02-million barrels, both much larger declines than analysts expected.

Official data from the US Energy Information Administration is due on Wednesday at 3.30pm GMT.

Also weighing on the market, data on Tuesday showed US consumer inflation stayed elevated in January. As a result, investors now expect Fed policymakers to wait longer before cutting interest rates, potentially dampening economic growth and oil demand.

With expectations of rate cuts pushed out, the dollar rose to a three-month peak. A stronger dollar typically weighs on demand for oil among buyers paying in other currencies.

ANZ analysts said prices had weakened partly due to worries about supply levels from members of oil cartel Opec, despite an overall bullish demand outlook in the group’s monthly report on Tuesday.

“Opec’s monthly oil market report … raised some concerns about the group’s adherence to its recent production cuts. Only Kuwait and Algeria have implemented their share of cuts, with Iraq’s output well above the agreed quota,” ANZ analysts said in a client note.


Source: businesslive.co.za