By Ben Sharples,
Aug. 7 (Bloomberg) — West Texas Intermediate crude swung between gains and losses near a six-month low before trade data that will signal the strength of the economy in China, the world’s second-biggest oil consumer. Brent was steady.
Futures were little changed in New York. WTI slid for a second time yesterday to the lowest price since February, even after a report from the Energy Information Administration showed U.S. crude and gasoline stockpiles shrank last week. In China, exports in July probably increased 7.3 percent, while imports are forecast to be down from the previous month, a Bloomberg News survey shows before data from the customs administration tomorrow.
“We’re seeing more demand come through that economy,” Jonathan Barratt, the chief investment officer at Ayers Alliance Securities in Sydney, said by phone today in reference to China. “Geopolitical events in the Middle East have been discounted, and the market is oversupplied.”
WTI for September delivery was at $97.10 a barrel, up 18 cents in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange at 10:39 a.m. Singapore time. The contract slid 0.5 percent to $96.92 yesterday, the lowest close since Feb. 3. The volume of all futures traded was about 17 percent below the 100-day average. Prices are down 1.3 percent this year.
Brent for September settlement rose 23 cents to $104.82 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. The European benchmark crude was at a premium of $7.71 to WTI. It closed at $7.67 yesterday after expanding a third day.
China’s overseas shipments in July probably were little changed from 7.2 percent in June, according to the survey. Imports rose 3 percent, compared with a 5.5 percent gain the previous month. The nation will account for about 11 percent of global oil demand this year, compared with 21 percent for the U.S., according to the International Energy Agency.
U.S. crude supplies fell by 1.76 million barrels to 365.6 million for the week ended Aug. 1, the EIA said yesterday. They were forecast to decline by 1.55 million, according to the median estimate of 10 analysts in a separate Bloomberg survey.
Gasoline inventories shrank by 4.39 million barrels to 213.8 million, the first drop in five weeks, said the EIA, the Energy Department’s statistical arm. They were estimated to remain unchanged in the survey.
In Iraq, Kurdish exports remain unaffected by turmoil that also has spared supply from the nation’s south, home to more than three-quarters of its crude output. The nation is the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ second-largest producer, pumping 3 million barrels a day in July.
(c) 2014 Bloomberg
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