Oil prices rise ahead of US stockpiles report

SINGAPORE: Oil prices rose in Asia Wednesday as dealers awaited the latest US supply report for clues about demand in the world´s top crude consumer, analysts said.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for October rose 21 cents to $92.96 while Brent crude for October edged up 23 cents to $99.39 in mid-morning trade.

“The US stockpiles numbers out later today are in focus at the moment,” David Lennox, resource analyst at Fat Prophets in Sydney, told.

“It will give an indication of US demand as markets waver about the health of the global economy following a batch of weak economic data,” Lennox said.

Reserves are expected to have fallen by 1.2 million barrels in the week to September 5, according to analysts polled by the Wall Street Journal. Gasoline stockpiles are expected to be unchanged, while stocks of distillates, including heating oil and diesel, are expected to have risen by 600,000 barrels.

Meanwhile, Lennox said investors are closely monitoring a slide in Brent, which is largely leveraged on international markets, following concerns about a global supply glut. Brent had lost $1.14 in London on Tuesday to close at $99.16, its lowest level since April 2013, and below the psychological barrier of $100.

“European demand remains exceedingly weak, but we see the North Sea producers still trying to keep up production levels to gain market share and knock out OPEC producers,” Lennox said, referring to the OPEC oil cartel which is dominated by Middle East nations and accounts for one third of global production.

Analysts have said OPEC could respond to declining prices and the global supply glut by reducing oil production levels. The group holds its next scheduled production meeting in Vienna on November 27.