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Oil near $90 as crude, gasoline stocks drop

Perth, December 22, 2010

Oil prices rose on Wednesday to  hover just below $90 a barrel, supported by data showing a  drop in US oil and gasoline inventories, a winter cold snap  in the United States and Europe amid thin trading volumes.

US crude for February climbed 10 cents to $89.92 a barrel by 0248 GMT. ICE Brent crude rose 17 cents to  $93.37.

American Petroleum Institute data released late on Tuesday  in the US showed a large 5.8 million barrel decline in  weekly crude stocks, surpassing analyst expectations.

"Big drops in crude oil and gasoline inventories in the  API data pushed the oil market to the up. But buying interest  around this level, around $90 a barrel, is not so large, "  said Ken Hasegawa, a commodity derivatives  manager at Japan's  Newedge brokerage.

API data also showed an unexpected 2.9 million barrel fall in gasoline inventories.

The US Energy Information Service will release its US inventory data at 1530 GMT on Wednesday.

Oil prices were also supported by chilly weather in  northern Europe and the United States, which has increased  heating fuel demand. US heating oil demand was expected to  average 4.6 percent above normal this week.

AccuWeather.com expects temperatures in the US northeast  to average mostly below normal for the next week, with  slightly milder readings late this month.

Thin trading volumes lent further support to oil prices.

"Ahead of the long Christmas holiday, there are relatively fewer participants. Therefore, it is possible to extend gains through the night on thin volumes, but I don't think the  market is that bullish," Hasegawa said.

The US dollar fell slightly against a basket of currencies. A weaker greenback supports dollar-denominated commodities such as oil, making it cheaper for those holding  other currencies. – Reuters




Tags: Oil | gasoline | price | US crude | Perth | Inventory |

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