Oil prices rallied in London and New York on Wednesday, encouraged by figures showing a heavy fall in US gasoline stocks last week, dealers said.
A barrel of North Sea Brent benchmark crude for May delivery climbed 56 cents to $25.33.In New York, the May light sweet crude contract surged 75 cents in early trade to $26.94 .
Crude prices rose "on the back of the big draw in gasoline," said ED and F Man trader Adam Stone.
The private American Petroleum Institute (API) published figures late Tuesday estimating that crude stocks rose 560,000 barrels to 303.2 million barrels last week -- a smaller rise than analysts had foreseen.
Figures published Wednesday by the US Department of Energy (DOE) estimated the rise in crude stocks at 1.7 million barrels.
But of greater concern was a large drain in gasoline stocks, which revived fears of a shortage of fuel as the US summer 'driving season' looms, traders said.
Last summer a similar situation sent crude prices soaring.
The API estimated the fall in gasoline inventories at 4.3 million barrels, to 192.2 million barrels, while the DOE reported a decrease of 3.3 million barrels. Gasoline stocks are 10 million barrels lower than they were this time last year, the API said.
US refinery operating capacity also fell from the previous week -- by 0.9 percent to 88.6 percent according to the API, or by 0.2 percent to 89.1 percent according to the DOE.
The basket price of seven world crudes which the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) uses to guide production policy meanwhile rose to $22.96 a barrel on Tuesday from 22.53 dollars on Monday, the OPECNA agency reported. OPEC is targeting a basket price of $25.—AFP
©--Agence France Presse 2001.
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )