Oil gains as Chinese factory data boosts commodities

Pic Reuters

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at 60.84 dollars a barrel at 0225 GMT, up 13 cents.

At 430.9 million barrels, USA crude oil inventories are in the lower half of the average range for this time of year. The American Petroleum Institute on Tuesday (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/api-data-reportedly-show-a-weekly-rise-us-crude-supply-but-gasoline-stockpiles-fall-2018-03-13) reported a rise of almost 1.2 million barrels, according to sources.

Iran is pushing for prices at $60 a barrel, where Mr. Zanganeh says US oil production will remain under control and not flood the market. Gasoline stocks fell by 6.3 million barrels, compared with analysts' expectations in a Reuters poll for a 1.2 million-barrel drop.

Distillate inventories saw a large draw this week of 4.258 million barrels.

"The drop in product stocks is significant with refinery utilization up 2% to 90%", said James Williams, energy economist at WTRG Economics.

On Nymex, oil product prices bucked the downtrend among most of energy peers, with April gasoline up 1.1% to $1.906 a gallon and April heating oil adding 0.1% to $1.875 a gallon.

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Recently, a slew of US shale firms predicted higher production this year as oil prices rebound.

Weekly US crude production figures will be published by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) later on Wednesday.

"With the tug of war between the USA and OPEC the soap opera continues", said Scott Gecas, senior strategic account executive at Long Leaf Trading Group.

Gasoline demand hit its highest level since August 2017, the EIA said. The move could have implications for United States sanctions on Iran, which could impact the latter's oil industry and exports, Facts Global Energy and Royal Bank of Canada warned.

While it was widely expected that OPEC's production in February would be well below the implied combined ceiling of about 32.73 million bpd, analysts and players were eager to see how low the oil production of crisis-stricken Venezuela dipped last month. He will likely push for the USA to exit the nuclear deal with the Persian Gulf nation in May, and could advocate for tougher sanctions on Venezuela, which might boost oil prices, she said.

Moody's, however, maintained its price band for North American natural gas at Henry Hub, the industry's chief measure of natural gas prices, at US$2.50-US$3.50 per million British thermal units.


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