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Oil heads for weekly loss as ample US stockpiles sustain glut

US crude and gasoline supplies are at the highest seasonal levels in at least two decades, according to data from the Energy Information Administration

Gulf News

Hong Kong/London: Oil is set for a weekly decline as the US heads toward the end of its summer-driving season with ample crude and motor fuel stockpiles.

Futures are down 2.7 per cent in New York this week. US crude and gasoline supplies are at the highest seasonal levels in at least two decades, according to data from the Energy Information Administration. Record June motor fuel consumption wasn’t enough to make a dent in inventories that ended the month at the highest since 1984 for this time of year. The summer driving season ends September 5 on Labor Day.

Oil has fluctuated between about $44 and $52 a barrel since early June after almost doubling from a 12-year low in February as supply disruptions from Nigeria to Canada and falling US output trim a global surplus. While American crude stockpiles slid for a record ninth week through July 15, they still remain more than 100 million barrels above the five-year average.

“One of the things the market has to contend with right now is a very, very high level of inventory,” Michael Cohen, an analyst at Barclays Plc, said in a Bloomberg television interview. “It’s very much higher than where we should be at this time of year.”

West Texas Intermediate for September delivery was little changed at $44.70 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange at 12.25pm. London time. The contract lost 2.2 per cent to close at $44.75 on Thursday. Total volume traded was about 11 per cent below the 100-day average. Prices are heading for the second weekly drop in three weeks.

US Stockpiles

Brent for September colony was 5 cents higher at $46.25 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. The contract fell 97 cents to $46.20 a barrel on Thursday. Prices are down 2.8 per cent this week. The global benchmark traded at a premium of $1.55 to WTI.

For a story on how prices are set and where they might be going, click here.

US crude inventories dropped by 2.34 million barrels last week to 519.5 million, the EIA reported Wednesday. Gasoline stockpiles rose to 241 million barrels, the highest level since April, while crude production gained for a second week.

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