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Oil falls for second day, demand uncertain

Singapore, July 28, 2010

Oil fell for a second day on Wednesday towards $77 after an unexpected increase in US crude stockpiles and a drop in US consumer confidence deepened doubts about recovery in energy demand.

US crude for September fell as much as 0.8 per cent to $76.88 a barrel, trading down 32 cents at $77.18 at 0300 GMT.

ICE Brent fell 23 cents to $75.90, shrugging off an early rally in Asian equities.

Prices on Tuesday touched an 11-week high of $79.69, boosted by Wall Street gains amid strong earnings by companies including DuPont and Co, before a report showing US consumers in July were the least confident about the economy since February because of worries of a stagnant job market.

The American Petroleum Institute said the nation's crude inventories posted a surprise increase of 3.1 million barrels last week, compared to a forecast decline of 1.6 million barrels. Figures from the US Department of Energy on stocks will be released at 1430 GMT on Wednesday.

Those statistics are forecast to show US crude oil inventories fell last week on a slip in imports and possibly some reduced production because of a storm threat in the Gulf of Mexico, a Reuters poll of analysts showed on Tuesday.

Refined products stockpiles were forecast to continue to show increases. For distillates, which include heating oil and diesel, the forecast was for a gain of 1.8 million barrels, the ninth consecutive weekly gain, while for gasoline, stocks should be up 400,000 barrels, the fifth straight increase in the middle of the US summer driving demand season.

'The mood of the market changes every few days, with waves of bullishness and bearishness continuing,' said Keichi Sano, general manager of research at SCM Securities in Tokyo.

'I don't know what can be the trigger for a breakout from this range,' Sano said, referring to the $70-$80 a barrel range, within which US crude has traded for nearly two months.

'I don't feel any strong energy. People are satisfied with range-trading. With low volumes, day-to-day activity is going to be choppy.'

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) has for the past year and a half expressed a preference for prices to remain stable in the current range, saying it encourages investment to sustain and increase production capacity and does not threaten the economic recovery.

Oil on Tuesday approached $80 a barrel as world stocks reached 2-½   month highs. The failure to break above that level was deemed by traders and analysts as a bearish signal.

Equity markets were also supported on Tuesday by global banking supervisors' plans to scale back proposals to beef up bank capital and liquidity rules. It was a relief to investors, who feared tough rules would hit the profitability of the financial sector. – Reuters




Tags: Oil | Opec | Singapore | Crude | demand | Supplies |

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