On Wednesday, crude prices edged lower for the first time in three sessions as investors looked ahead to fresh weekly data on U.S. commercial crude inventories to gauge the strength of demand in the world’s largest oil consumer and how fast output levels will continue to rise.
Among expectations for a decline of around 0.2 million barrels, the U.S. Energy Information Administration will release its official weekly oil supplies report for the week ended April 6 at 10:30AM ET (1430GMT).
“U.S. oil inventories rose by 1.8 million barrels last week”, said the American Petroleum Institute, after markets closed Tuesday. The API report also showed that while distillate stocks, which include motor diesel and heating oil, fell by about 3.8 million barrels, a 2.0 million barrel increase in gasoline stocks.
Between the API estimates and the official figures from EIA, there are often sharp divergences. Meantime, Brent crude futures, the benchmark for oil prices outside the U.S., shed 21 cents, or roughly 0.3%, to $70.83 a barrel.
On Tuesday, Brent surged more than 3% to hit its highest level since late 2014, at $71.33 a barrel, boosted by the possibility of an American military strike on Syria. The wider Middle East is the world’s most important crude exporter and tension in the region tends to put oil markets on edge, while Syria is not a significant oil producer itself.
There are also concerns that the United States could renew sanctions against Iran, a major Middle East oil producer. In other energy trading, heating oil fell 0.3% to $2.058 a gallon, while gasoline futures slipped 0.3% to $2.027 a gallon. Natural gas futures inched up 0.4% to $2.667 per million British thermal units. /investing.com
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