Singapore: Oil prices rose for the third straight session on Tuesday, supported by cold weather in the United States and Europe, seasonal gasoline demand, and an expected drop in US crude stocks.
US crude for February climbed 20 cents to $89.57 a barrel by 1:20pm, ICE Brent crude traded 10 cents higher at $92.84.
Trading volume was expected to remain thin this week with strong resistance seen at $90 a barrel and support at $88, said Tetsu Emori, a fund manager at Tokyo-based Astmax Co Ltd.
“Oil prices are being driven by the oil product markets, which have risen on driving demand for the Christmas season and the cold in the north,” Emori said.
US gasoline futures rose to an intra-day high of $2.3856 a gallon, the highest since early May, on hopes that holiday driving will boost demand.
Heating oil and gas oil futures also gained as frigid weather in the United States and Europe fueled demand.
Heating oil demand in the world’s largest oil user was expected to be 4.6% above normal this week, according to the US National Weather Service.
Weekly oil inventory reports were expected to show crude oil and distillate stocks fell last week, though gasoline stockpiles were estimated to have risen, according to a Reuters survey of analysts on Monday.
US oil inventory data from the American Petroleum Institute is due later on Tuesday, with the government’s report following on Wednesday.
Snow and frigid temperatures grounded flights and disrupted road and rail links across northern Europe, stranding travellers and closing schools.
The dollar fell against a basket of currencies, while the euro remained under pressure after ratings agency Moody’s said it may cut the ratings on some Spanish banks.
Markets were also closely monitoring tensions in the Korean Peninsula.
North Korea stepped back from confrontation over “reckless” military drills by the South and reportedly issued a new offer on nuclear inspections, drawing a cautious response from Seoul and Washington.
In China, its kerosene imports for November hit an all time high of 861,388 tonnes, up nearly 61 percent a year ago, official customs data showed on Tuesday.
Strong Chinese demand for distillates could also support the firm crude sentiment, as its major refineries are likely to keep their crude throughput high.
Final November trade data from the world’s No. 2 oil user, China, showed crude imports rose 22% in November from October.