Oil above $82 as traders eye US supplies, Opec

Oil above $82 as traders eye US supplies, Opec

Singapore: Oil prices rose above $82 a barrel Wednesday in Asia after a report showed US crude inventories grew less than expected last week.

Benchmark crude for April delivery was up 38 cents to $82.08 a barrel at midday Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The contract rose $1.90 to settle at $81.70 on Tuesday after the Federal Reserve said it plans to hold interest rates at record lows.

Crude inventories rose 400,000 barrels last week, the American Petroleum Institute said late Tuesday. Analysts had expected an increase of 1.9 million barrels, according to a survey by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos.

Inventories of gasoline and distillates fell, the API said.

The Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration is scheduled to announce its supply report later Wednesday.

Leaders of the 12-nation Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) have signaled they don’t expect the group to change production quotas when it meets Wednesday in Vienna.

Despite sluggish oil demand from developed countries, some analysts expect growing consumption in Asia to help push prices higher.

“Asia is where all the demand is coming from," said David Carbon, head of economic research at DBS bank in Singapore. “The outlook for commodities like oil just has to be moving up."

Carbon said he expects oil prices to rise about $10 a barrel a year for the next four years.

In other Nymex trading in April contracts, heating oil rose 0.51 cent to $2.119 a gallon, and gasoline gained 1.04 cents to $2.285 a gallon. Natural gas jumped 1.6 cents to $4.363 per 1,000 cubic feet.

In London, Brent crude was down 41 cents at $80.94 on the ICE futures exchange.