Singapore: Oil prices rose slightly in Asia on Wednesday to near $115 a barrel as investors awaited a weekly crude inventory report for evidence an economic slowdown in the US is cutting consumer demand for oil products such as gasoline.
Light, sweet crude for September delivery was up 55 cents at $115.08 barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange by midday in Singapore. The contract rose $1.66 overnight to settle at $114.53 a barrel.
Investors are waiting for a report by the US Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration on US oil stocks for the week ended 15 August later in the day.
The petroleum supply report was expected to show that gasoline inventories fell by 3 million barrels, according to the average of analysts’ estimates in a survey by energy information provider Platts.
“People are going to be looking at the gas numbers,” said Jonathan Kornafel, Asia director for brokerage Hudson Capital Energy in Singapore.
The Platts survey also showed that analysts projected oil stocks rose 1.7 million barrels and distillates went up 1.2 million barrels during last week.
Oil prices have rebounded after falling about $35, or nearly a quarter, from their all-time trading record $147.27 on 11 July expectations that high gasoline prices and slowing economic growth in the US, Europe and Japan will undermine global energy demand.
“Just as the market overshot to the upside, it overshot the other way,” Kornafel said. “It looks like we’re consolidating between $112 and $118.”
Weighing on prices was a slightly stronger dollar compared to the euro. The 15-nation euro traded was down to $1.4762, while the dollar rose to 109.88 yen.
A rising greenback encourages investors who had been seeking commodities like oil as a hedge against inflation to sell their positions.
“I think credit markets need to improve in the U.S. before we see a sustained rally in the dollar,” Kornafel said. “We may have hit a top for the dollar. I don’t think this rally can last.”
In other Nymex trading, heating oil futures rose 2.33 cents to $3.147 a gallon, while gasoline prices gained 1.81 cents to $2.882 a gallon. Natural gas futures increased 9.1 cents to $8.067 per 1,000 cubic feet.
In London, October Brent crude rose 49 cents to $113.74 a barrel.