Oil prices hovered near US$75 a barrel yesterday in Asia after a report showed U.S. crude inventories fell more than expected, suggesting demand may be improving.
Benchmark oil for October delivery was up US$0.01 at US$74.68 a barrel at midday Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose US$0.58 to settle at US$74.67 on Wednesday. Crude inventories fell 7.3 million barrels last week, the American Petroleum Institute said late Wednesday. Analysts surveyed by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos., had forecast a drop of 730,000 barrels. Inventories of gasoline and distillates rose, the API said. The Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration reports its weekly supply data later yesterday.
Despite last week’s decrease, U.S. oil supplies are at a 30-year high and that weighs on crude prices, energy consultancy Cameron Hanover said.
The Energy Department said Wednesday it expects the December contract to settle at US$78 a barrel and the December 2011 contract to settle at US$84 as a jump in demand from China helps offset slowing growth in developed countries. China will likely consume an average of 9.5 million barrels a day next year, up 46 percent from 2002, the department said.