Wednesday, August 15, 2012

OIL FUTURES: Crude Mixed on Stocks, Currency; Fresh Cues Ahead

By Surabhi Sahu
Crude-oil futures were mixed in Asian trading Wednesday, with Brent crude edging upward in tandem with currency movements and the U.S. benchmark weighed by an industry group's estimate of rising U.S. crude stockpiles last week.

Meanwhile U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta's remarks late Tuesday to the effect that Israel hasn't decided to strike Iran and there is still time to negotiate a solution to the nuclear showdown with the Islamic Republic narrowed oil's risk premium.

The euro was trading at $1.2341 at 0640 GMT compared with $1.2332 at 0625 GMT. Dollar-denominated commodities such as oil tend to rise when the greenback weakens, making them more affordable to holders of other currencies.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, light, sweet crude futures for delivery in September traded at $93.39 a barrel at 0642 GMT, down $0.04 in the Globex electronic session. September Brent crude on London's ICE Futures exchange rose $0.13 to $114.16 a barrel.

A Singapore-based trader put immediate support for Nymex crude at $91 a barrel on the back of the bearish cues.

The American Petroleum Institute said Tuesday that crude inventories rose by 2.784 million barrels in the week ended Aug. 10. Analysts surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires had predicted a 1.9 million-barrel drawdown.

The more closely watched inventory survey from the U.S. Energy Information Administration is due at 1430 GMT. Any significant departure from API's estimate will likely prompt investors to adjust their positions accordingly.

Meanwhile, macroeconomic data are providing generally bullish cues, with positive sentiment unlikely to be significantly disturbed by an array of U.S. data releases this week, Jim Ritterbusch at Ritterbusch and Associates said late Tuesday.

Any favorable numbers on the heels of Tuesday's better-than-expected French and German GDP figures would bode well for petroleum demand, Mr. Ritterbusch said.

Germany's gross domestic product grew by 0.3% in April-June, compared with expectations of a 0.2% growth, while France reported flat growth for a third quarter in a row. A Bank of France business survey last week forecast a 0.1% GDP contraction in the third quarter.

Investors will be taking further cues from the U.S. Consumer Price Index for July and housing starts data at 1230 GMT and on Thursday, respectively, to assess the health of the world's largest economy, a Tokyo-based trader said.
Nymex reformulated gasoline blendstock for September--the benchmark gasoline contract--rose 99 points to $3.0113 a gallon, while September heating oil traded at $3.0342, 4 points lower.
ICE gasoil for September changed hands at $960.25 a metric ton, up $2.75 from Tuesday's settlement.
Write to Surabhi Sahu at

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