Oil falls towards $82 on high US stockpiles

Oil falls towards $82 on high US stockpiles

Singapore: Oil fell towards $82 a barrel on Wednesday, extending the steepest one-day percentage loss in three months in the previous session, on rising oil inventories and a firm dollar.

The dollar surged to a one-year high against a basket of six major currencies. It climbed to its strongest since last May against the Swiss franc as share markets around Asia lost ground on heightening fears that Greece’s debt woes could spread to other countries.

US crude for June delivery fell 37 cents to $82.37 a barrel by 10:29am.

The contract dropped $3.45, or 4%, to settle at $82.74 a barrel on Tuesday. In post-settlement trading, it ended electronic trading at $82.07, down $4.15 or 4.78%, the largest one-day percentage loss since the 4.99 percent slide on 4 February.

London Brent crude lost 32 cents to $85.35 a barrel.

“The main influences now are the rise in the dollar, the sovereign concerns in the euro zone spreading into Portugal and Spain. I think a pretty important factor though going forward is the build in oil stocks in the United States," said Ben Westmore, an analyst at National Australia Bank.

“The price at those low $80s per barrel sort of mark is consistent with the market fundamental alone. I would expect oil price to track around the low $80s for the rest of the week."

The dollar, which rose 0.37% against a basket of currencies on Wednesday, was supported by signs that the US economy was on the mend.

Data released on Tuesday showed pending US home sales rose 5.3% in March while factory orders increased 1.3%. Both numbers handily beat forecasts.

A strong US currency makes dollar-denominated commodities, such as oil, more pricey for holders of other currencies and tends to dampen crude prices.

Crude oil inventories at the key storage hub at Cushing, Oklahoma, rose by 1.7% barrels to a record high of 36.3 million barrels, data from industry group the American Petroleum Institute (API) showed.

Overall, US crude stockpiles rose by 3 million barrels in the week to 30 April, API data showed, versus analyst expectations of a 1.1 million-barrel rise in the latest Reuters poll.

Gasoline stocks rose by 1.5 million barrels last week, sharply higher than a rise of 200,000 barrels analysts had expected.

Distillates, including heating oil and diesel, rose by 1.4 million barrels, versus expectations of a 1.7 million barrel rise. The US Energy Information Administration’s report is set to arrive on Wednesday at 7:30pm.

Crude oil prices have not been seriously impacted so far from a giant oil spill off the US Gulf Coast.

A flotilla of nearly 200 boats tackled a massive oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday, taking advantage of calm weather to intensify containment efforts while a scientist warned that a powerful current could carry the crude to Miami and points beyond.