Singapore: Oil prices held steady around $68 a barrel in Asian trading on 18 June, on lingering concerns US gasoline supplies are still not meeting peak summer demand.
Light, sweet crude for July delivery edged down 2 cents to $67.98 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange midmorning in Singapore. The contract rose 35 cents to settle at $68 a barrel on Friday, 15 June, its highest close since September.
Analysts said traders continue to react to last week’s report by the US Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration.
The report showed gasoline inventories were unchanged at 201.5 million barrels for the week ended 8 June. Analysts surveyed by Dow Jones News wires had expected inventories to rise by 2 million barrels.
“There’s still the ongoing problems with getting enough gasoline ready,” said Tobin Gorey, a commodity strategist with the Commonwealth Bank of Australia in Sydney.
Last week’s report showed that US refinery utilisation, which had been expected to grow by 0.8 percentage points, fell 0.4 points to 89.2% in the week ended 8 June, the second straight weekly decline.
Most analysts say refineries should be using 94-95% of their capacity this time of year.
The report killed any sentiment that the US refining industry, beset by an unusual number of outages this spring, has recovered.
Unrest in Nigeria has also kept oil prices supported. On Friday, gunmen seized five foreign hostages in two separate incidents in the vast wetlands region where the crude is pumped.