Singapore: World oil prices traded flat in Asia on 30 August as the market weighed surprisingly steep declines in US energy stockpiles and the potential of weaker global demand amid financial turbulence.
At 10:00am (0730 IST) New York’s main futures contract, light sweet crude for delivery in October, was four cents higher at $73.55 a barrel after soaring $1.78 to 73.51 dollars in late US trades on 29 August.
Brent North Sea crude for October delivery was a penny higher at $72.14 a barrel.
In a weekly report, the US Department of Energy (DoE) said American crude oil inventories plunged 3.5 million barrels in the week ended 24 August.
That was nearly six times more than the analyst consensus forecast of a 600,000-barrel drop.
The DoE added that US gasoline inventories dived by 3.6 million barrels, sharper than the forecast of 2.5 million barrels.
Motor fuel inventories remain far below normal levels as US refiners have struggled to keep up during the peak demand of the holiday driving season, which began in May and wraps up this weekend with the Labour Day holiday.
“I’m surprised at these numbers,” said Steve Rowles, an analyst with CFC Seymour in Hong Kong.
“Participants refocussed on supplies issues rather than on macroeconomics problems,” Michael Fitzpatrick, an analyst at MF Global, said during US trading hours.
But concerns over US economic health continue to underlie the oil market, dealers said.