West Texas Intermediate crude traded near the lowest price in two months before inventory data that may signal the strength of fuel demand in the U.S., the world’s biggest oil consumer. Brent fell in London.
Futures were little changed in New York after gaining eight cents yesterday. U.S. gasoline stockpiles probably increased by 900,000 barrels last week to the highest level since March and distillate supplies also rose, a Bloomberg News survey shows before an Energy Information Administration report tomorrow. Crude production from Iraq remains unaffected by an insurgency while Libya seeks to boost exports after two ports reopened.
“The key focus will be the EIA numbers,” David Lennox, a resource analyst at Fat Prophets in Sydney, said by phone today. “The U.S. drive time looks solid but not as good as we were anticipating. The market has lost interest in the Middle East and that’s why we’ve seen a weakening in prices.”
WTI for August delivery was at $100.80 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, down 11 cents, at 4:42 p.m. Sydney time. The contract closed at $100.83 on July 11, the lowest since May 12. The volume of all futures traded was about 12 percent below the 100-day average. Prices have advanced 2.4 percent this year.
Brent for August settlement was down as much as 43 cents, or 0.4 percent, at $106.55 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. The contract expires tomorrow. The more-active September future was 27 cents lower at $107.44. The European benchmark crude traded at a premium of $5.88 to WTI, compared with $6.07 yesterday.