BUSINESS

Crude oil posts small gain as traders await US supply data, economic indicators

11/19/2013 04:01 EST | Updated 01/25/2014 04:01 EST
The price of oil rose slightly Tuesday as traders waited for new clues on U.S. economic strength and the amount of oil and gasoline in supply.

Benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude for December delivery gained 31 cents to close at US$93.34 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Oil has traded between US$93 and US$96 a barrel for more than two weeks and is down from nearly US$110 a barrel in early October due to ample supplies and tepid demand.

Brent crude for January delivery, the benchmark for an international variety of crude, dropped $1.55 to US$106.92 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

U.S. retail sales due Wednesday might halt oil's recent slide if the figures show increased demand for gasoline.

Iran, meanwhile, will resume talks this week in Geneva with the U.S., Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany aimed at resolving a decade-long standoff over Iran's nuclear program.

The powers are offering a gradual rollback of sanctions that have crippled Iran's economy, raising concerns of an influx of Iranian oil into world markets at a time of already abundant supplies.

Fresh information on U.S. stockpiles of crude oil and refined products will be released Wednesday morning.

Data for the week ended Nov. 15 is expected to show declines of 500,000 barrels in crude oil stocks and 150,000 barrels in gasoline stocks, according to a survey of analysts by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos.

If confirmed, the fall in crude oil supplies would be the first in nearly two months. On Nov. 8, crude supplies were 13 per cent above their five-year average. Gasoline stocks, however, have fallen for five weeks in a row.

In other energy futures trading on Nymex, wholesale gasoline slipped two cents to US$2.64 a U.S. gallon (3.79 litres), heating oil fell two cents to US$2.91 a gallon and natural gas lost six cents to $3.56 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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