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Crude Oil Futures Mixed in Asian Trading

Published: February 28, 2013 | 8:29 am
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By Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen

Crude-oil futures were mixed in Asian trading Thursday, with the U.S. benchmark supported by a lower-than-expected rise in crude inventories and an overall improvement in investor sentiment as worries over the euro-zone debt crisis ease.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, light, sweet crude futures for delivery in April traded at $92.85 a barrel at 0641 GMT, up $0.09 in the Globex electronic session. April Brent crude on London’s ICE Futures exchange fell $0.09 to $111.78 a barrel.

The Nymex crude contract, which is headed for its first monthly drop since October, continued its upward trend on Thursday as U.S. crude stockpiles rose less than expected in the past week, signaling stronger demand in the world’s biggest economy. Crude inventories rose for the sixth straight week adding to growing oversupply, as domestic production continues to climb.

Brent crude, which climbed back above $112 a barrel in early trade, continued the trend from Wednesday when the contract fell to a five-week low after nuclear talks with Iran ended on a positive note.

International sanctions against Iran have resulted in significantly lower crude exports over the last year, tightening global oil markets and supporting Brent in particular.

Although the talks between Iran and world powers over the Middle East country’s controversial nuclear program ended Wednesday without major progress, the parties agreed to meet again in coming weeks. The next round of talks is scheduled for 18 March in Istanbul followed by a session in Almaty, Kazakhstan, on 5-6 April.

“The oil price risk premium could start shirking if there is any sign of meaningful progress at the next round of negotiations,” said VTB Capital’s Andrey Kryuchenkov.

The spread between WTI and Brent has widened as much as $5 since mid-January, but had narrowed to $18.93 a barrel at 0641 GMT, partly due to reduced geopolitical risk related to Iran.

Nymex reformulated gasoline blendstock for March–the benchmark gasoline contract–fell 14 points to $2.8551 a gallon, while March heating oil traded at $2.9843, 36 points lower.

ICE gasoil for March changed hands at $937.75 a metric ton, down $6.50 from Wednesday’s settlement.

Write to Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen at jacob.pedersen@dowjones.com


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