25 February 2014, News Wires – Brent futures eased on Tuesday as US crude stockpiles rose for a second straight week, but held above $110 per barrel on concerns over supply from prolonged outages in Libya and other exporters.
An easing of the severe chill over the US and Europe is likely to cut demand for heating fuels, removing a key support that has propped up oil benchmarks during a period of typically low demand, Reuters reported.
Investors are now eyeing appetite for gasoline ahead of the start of the US summer driving season.
Brent crude fell $0.17 to $110.47 per barrel by Tuesday morning, after settling at its highest for the year in the previous session, according to Reuters.
US oil declined $0.35 to $102.47, after ending $0.62 higher, the news wire said.
“After heating oil, the market will now look at gasoline demand and how that will help support oil prices,” Astmax Investment commodity fund manager Tetsu Emori told Reuters.
“There will be some refineries shutting down for maintenance, but it is hard to predict the direction of oil at this point.”
Emori predicted strong support for Brent at $105 per barrel and resistance at $115. The US benchmark faces strong support at $100 but could slip to $98, if it breaks past that floor.
As the market refocuses attention to gasoline, worries of further supply disruption following continued unrest in Libya, South Sudan, Nigeria and sanctions on Iran will keep oil prices supported, Emori reportedly said.
“Oil will probably now be driven by fundamentals of the oil market itself,” he said. “People are looking at the demand/supply balance in the US and other countries.”
US commercial crude stocks were expected to have risen 1.4 million barrels on average for the week to 21 February, a preliminary Reuters poll taken ahead of weekly inventory reports from industry groups showed.
That would mark an increase for a second straight week as crude oil stocks rose about 1 million barrels to 362 million barrels in the week to 14 February, while crude imports fell 508,000 barrels per day to 7.36 million barrels per day, Energy Informatin Agency data had showed.
Stocks of distillates, which include heating oil and diesel fuel, were forecast to have fallen 1.5 million barrels on average last week, in the latest survey. Gasoline stocks were also seen down 1.5 million.