Singapore: Oil prices fell to near $75 a barrel Thursday in Asia as traders mulled signs of tepid US crude demand against growing consumption in developing economies.
Benchmark crude for June delivery was down 27 cents to $75.38 a barrel at midday Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The June contract lost 72 cents to settle at $75.65 on Wednesday.
Crude inventories keep rising, defying analyst predictions that a recovering US economy would boost demand. The Energy Information Administration said Wednesday that oil supplies increased more than expected last week as stockpiles grow for 14 of the last 15 weeks.
Supplies at the key Cushing, Oklahoma terminal jumped to a record high.
“Fundamentals in the U.S. are still pretty weak, and those massive Cushing stocks keep getting bigger,” said Ben Westmore, an energy analyst with National Australia Bank in Melbourne.
The Paris-based International Energy Agency said Wednesday that global oil demand this year was expected to rise 220,000 barrels a day less than it previously forecast.
Investors are looking to surging demand from developing countries, such as China and India, to bolster oil prices.
“In non-Japan Asia, the fundamentals are a lot rosier,” Westmore said. “Prices in the mid- to high-$70s seem to be fair.”
In other Nymex trading in June contracts, heating oil rose 0.54 cent to $2.1645 a gallon, and gasoline was steady at $2.211 a gallon. Natural gas fell 2.1 cents to $4.263 per 1,000 cubic feet.
In London, Brent crude was up 22 cents to $81.42 on the ICE futures exchange.