06 November 2013, News Wires – Brent futures rose towards $106 a barrel on Wednesday after investors in Asia latched on to a fall in US oil product inventories, which revived hopes of an improvement in US demand and helped crude recover from a steep fall overnight.
The benchmark also drew support from worries that a prolonged outage in Libya could tighten an already delicate global supply-demand balance at a time of peak winter season demand for heating fuels.
Brent crude gained 62 cents to $105.95 a barrel early on Wednesday, after settling 90 cents lower at a four-month low. US oil rose 51 cents to $93.88, after ending $1.25 down to the lowest in five months.
“We saw big declines in prices overnight. That and data showing a fall in US gasoline and distillate stocks is encouraging people to come and buy back some positions,” said Ken Hasegawa, a commodity sales manager at Newedge Japan.
“Overall, trading will remain in a tight range till some of the key economic numbers are out from the United States later this week.”
Brent could swing between a low of about $103 a barrel and a high of $109 in the next two weeks, with the US benchmark trading in a range of $92 to $99 a barrel, Hasegawa said.
Data from industry group the American Petroleum Institute showed that gasoline stocks fell 4.3 million barrels, far below analysts’ expectations of a 338,000-barrel draw.
Distillate fuel stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, fell by 2.73 million barrels compared with expectations of a 1.3 million-barrel drop.
But overall crude inventories rose by 871,000 barrels in the week to 1 November to 382 million barrels, the seventh straight weekly increase.
Investors are now waiting for stockpile data from the US Energy Information Administration for clarity on demand.
The turmoil in Libya continued to worry oil investors.
Libyan militia fighters on the government payroll fought each other with rifles, grenades and anti-aircraft weapons on the streets of Tripoli in the worst clashes in the capital in weeks, highlighting the government’s inability to secure oilfields and ports.
Strikes and armed protests by militias demanding payments or political rights have shut much of the Opec member’s oil output for months.
Yet a technical indicator closely watched by oil traders fell to its lowest in more than a year on Tuesday, suggesting to some that oil may get a reprieve from a long decline.
The relative strength of crude, or RSI-14, on the US December contract fell to 26, its lowest since June 2012. Technical analysts generally regard a level of 30 as a sign a commodity has been oversold and is ready for a rise, while an RSI of 70 indicates it may be too high and set to fall.
Continued progress in talks between Iran and the West over Tehran’s nuclear programme is taking some of the risk premium away from the market, weighing on prices.
Iran’s top negotiator said that a framework deal on its nuclear programme was possible as early as this week.
Iran resumes negotiations in Geneva on Thursday with six world powers to try to end a stand-off over its programme, which the West suspects may be aimed at developing nuclear weapons, despite Iran’s denials.