Oil Down Slightly in Asia

18 Jul

Oil futures traded modestly lower in the early part of Thursday’s Asian session as traders in the region digested a swath of key central bank and data points out of the U.S. Wednesday.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, light, sweet crude futures for September delivery fell 0.14% to USD106.21 per barrel in Asian trading Thursday.

Crude traded slightly higher Wednesday in the U.S. after the U.S. Energy Information Administration said in its weekly report that U.S. crude oil inventories fell by 6.9 million barrels in the week ended July 12, blowing past expectations for a decline of 2 million barrels.

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Total U.S. crude oil inventories stood at 367.0 million barrels as of last week. The report also showed that total motor gasoline inventories increased by 3.1 million barrels, confounding expectations for an decline of 0.5 million barrels.

Oil also got a small lift after the Fed’s Beige Book business survey, which encompasses the central bank’s 12 regional banks, showed manufacturing expanded in most regions since the last report. The report showed modest growth across 11 districts with Dallas showing strong growth.

In other economic news out Wednesday, the Commerce Department said U.S. housing starts fell 9.9% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 836,000 unit in June, the lowest reading since August 2012. Analysts expected starts to rise to 959,000 units. Bad weather was cited as one of the reasons for the slack reading.

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Meanwhile, Angola, a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, forecast its daily output for September will be 1.67 million barrels, well below the 2 million barrels per day target. The country expects to pump 1.7 million barrels a day next month. Angola is Africa’s second-largest oil producer behind fellow OPEC member Nigeria.

This year, Angola has averaged about 1.72 million barrels per day in production, below the daily average of 1.9 million barrels for Nigeria. Angola is banking on new offshore discoveries to boost output in the future.

Elsewhere, Brent futures for September delivery inched down 0.04% to USD108.63 per barrel on the ICE Futures Exchange.

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