Oil held losses below $45 a barrel after sliding to the lowest in seven months as U.S. gasoline supplies unexpectedly rose for a second week.
Futures were little changed in New York after slumping 3.7 percent Wednesday, the first drop in four sessions. Motor fuel stockpiles expanded by 2.1 million barrels last week, the Energy Information Administration reported. Most analysts surveyed by Bloomberg had forecast a decline. Crude output rose while nationwide inventories fell less than predicted.
Oil has declined almost 8 percent this month amid speculation increasing U.S. supplies will offset production curbs by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies including Russia. New supplies from OPEC rivals will be more than enough to meet demand growth next year, the International Energy Agency said Wednesday in its first forecast for 2018.
“Demand is not as strong as expected and supply continues to increase despite softer prices,” said Michael McCarthy, a chief market strategist at CMC Markets in Sydney. “There are a lot of reasons to be selling oil. It looks like the downward momentum will continue.”
West Texas Intermediate for July delivery was at $44.69 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, down 4 cents, at 12 p.m. in Hong Kong. Total volume traded was about 64 percent above the 100-day average. Prices dropped $1.73 to $44.73 on Wednesday, the lowest close since Nov. 14.
Brent for August settlement was up 3 cents to $47.03 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. Prices slid $1.72, or 3.5 percent, to $47 Wednesday. The global benchmark crude traded at a premium of $2.11 to August WTI.
U.S. crude stockpiles dropped by 1.66 million barrels last week, the EIA reported Wednesday. Inventories were forecast to decline by 2.45 million, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey. Production rose by 12,000 barrels a day to 9.33 million barrels per day.
- The Qatar crisis is reverberating in Libya, inflaming political divisions in the war-torn oil exporter and dragging commodity-trading giant Glencore Plc into a dispute over crude sales.
- Iraq is driving up crude oil exports to the U.S., the world’s second-biggest import market, just as there are signs Saudi Arabia is honoring a pledge to restrict such deliveries, according to tanker-tracking data.