Oil crosses $76 a barrel ahead of US data

Oil crosses $76 a barrel ahead of US data

Singapore: Oil prices rose amid expectations that a US government report due later on 6 September would show declines in crude and gasoline inventories.

Light, sweet crude for October delivery gained 33 cents to $76 a barrel in Asian electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, midmorning in Singapore. The contract rose 65 cents to settle at $75 a barrel on 5 September.

In this week’s inventory report, delayed until Thursday because of Monday’s Labour Day holiday, the Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration was expected to report that gasoline stockpiles fell by 1.1 million barrels on average in the week ended 31 August, but that refinery utilization rose 0.2 percentage points, according to a Dow Jones Newswires survey of analysts.

Crude oil inventories also fell by 1.1 million barrels, analysts predict. Distillate stocks, which include heating oil and diesel fuel, were expected to build by 100,000 barrels.

Weighing on oil and gasoline prices was a US trade group’s report that pending home sales fell in July as would-be home buyers had a tough time borrowing. The possibility that problems in the subprime mortgage industry will cause a wider economic slowdown has energy investors worried demand for oil and gasoline will fall.

In London, October Brent crude gained 21 cents to $74 a barrel on the ICE futures exchange.

Heating oil futures added 1.18 cents to $2.11 a gallon (3.8 liters) while gasoline prices rose 0.74 cent to $2 a gallon. Natural gas futures advanced 4.7 cents to US$5.852 per 1,000 cubic feet.