Oil Prices Mixed Ahead of EIA Crude Inventories, OPEC Report

While investors looked ahead to the release of official data on U.S. crude inventories and the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ monthly report, Oil prices showed mixed trade on Wednesday.

New York-traded West Texas Intermediate crude futures gained 37 cents, or 0.53%, at $69.62 a barrel by 5:31 AM ET (9:31 GMT).

Meanwhile, Brent crude futures, the benchmark for oil prices outside the U.S., lost 14 cents, or 0.18%, to $78.92.

The American Petroleum Institute reported late Tuesday that U.S. crude stockpiles fell by 8.636 million barrels, smashing expectations for a much smaller decline.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration will release its weekly crude inventories at 10:30 AM ET (14:30 GMT) amid forecast for a draw of 1.3 million barrels.

Also on the docket, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will release its monthly report that includes forecast for global demand for oil at approximately 7:10 AM ET (11:10 GMT).

The potential impact of Hurricane Florence, that is moving towards the east coast of the United States, added to market concerns about U.S. sanctions on Iran to power an overnight spike in oil prices that was the largest spike since June.

Reports suggest Iranian oil exports are beginning to take a hit as buyers look for alternative supplies in the face of U.S. sanctions which will take effect on November 4.

Hurricane Florence, a large Category 4 storm, is approaching North Carolina and South Carolina. It is expected to reach the continental U.S. this week.

People have been buying gasoline ahead of the storm and the surge in demand led to a spike in demand for refined products and crude.

As part of an effort to keep oil prices from spiking, U.S. energy officials have been meeting with their counterparts from Saudi Arabia and Russia this week. The three countries are the largest oil producers in the world. The U.S. wants to ensure Saudi Arabia and Russia keep supplies up to limit price rises.

U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry met Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih on Monday. They discussed the state of global oil markets, potential for U.S.-Saudi civil nuclear cooperation along with efforts to share technologies for the production of clean fuels, according to a statement from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Perry will also meet with Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak on Thursday in Moscow, a U.S. source and a diplomatic source told Reuters on Sunday night.

In other energy trading, gasoline futures fell 0.35% to $2.0165 a gallon by 5:32 AM ET (9:32 GMT), while heating oil dropped 0.15% to $2.2487 a gallon.

Lastly, natural gas futures traded up 0.42% to $2.840 per million British thermal units./investing.com

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