Oil prices hold firm despite rise in gasoline stocks

Published April 12th, 2001 - 02:00 GMT

Oil prices on Wednesday, April 11, clung to large gains racked up the previous session, despite figures showing an unexpected rise in US gasoline stocks. Reference Brent North Sea crude for May delivery was selling for $26.56 a barrel, against $26.54 at the previous close. 


Traders said that technical buying was supporting the Brent May contract, which expires at the closing bell on Wednesday. The New York light sweet crude May contract rallied $1.2 overnight to $28.48 a barrel on expectations of data showing a large drain in US gasoline reserves. 


The market is concerned by the prospect of another gasoline shortage going into the northern hemisphere summer, when demand traditionally picks up. 


In the event, the figures from the private American Petroleum Institute (API) revealed a 315,000-barrel rise in gasoline stocks last week, the first increase for seven weeks. Gasoline stocks nevertheless remain 11.5 million barrels lower than a year ago, the API said. Crude reserves rose 4.7 million barrels to 307.9 million, it estimated. 


Traders said that prices could fall if official figures from the US Department of Energy to be published later Wednesday support API estimates. Further price-negative news came from the United Nations, which said Wednesday that Iraq's oil exports surged to 2.29 million barrels per day (bpd) in the week ending April 6, their highest level since late October. 


Analysts note that rising exports from Iraqi are offsetting the four-percent output cut agreed last month by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), effective from April 1. 


The basket price of seven crudes worldwide used by OPEC to help set output jumped to $24.87 on Tuesday — within a whisker of its target of $25 — the OPECNA agency reported. — (AFP, London) 


© Agence France Presse 2001

© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)

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