Published: Thu, July 18, 2019
Markets | By Otis Pena

Oil prices steady after falling to more than one-week lows

Oil prices steady after falling to more than one-week lows

Brent crude LCOc1 futures were down 15 cents, or 0.2%, at $63.51 a barrel by 0044 GMT. They fell 3.3% on Wednesday, having fallen to the lowest since July 9. West Texas Intermediate crude futures were up 0.6 percent at $57.97 per barrel, after ending down 3.3 percent on Tuesday.

Oil prices rose on Wednesday after steep falls in the previous session, although USA crude trailed gains for worldwide benchmark Brent following data showing US crude inventories fell less than expected.

Crude oil prices dropped more than $2.45 a barrel Tuesday, as President Trump said progress has been made with Iran, signaling tensions could ease in the Mideast, Kallanish Energy reports.

Oil production in the Gulf of Mexico returning to normal following Hurricane Barry is also expected to limit price gains. The American Petroleum Institute said Tuesday that crude inventories fell by 1.4 million barrels in the week to July 12 to 460 million barrels.

United States officials say they are unsure whether an oil tanker towed into Iranian waters was seized by Iran or rescued after facing mechanical faults as the Iranian government asserts, sowing confusion at a time of high tension in the Gulf. Distillate stockpiles grew by 5.7 million barrels, much more than expectations for a 613,000-barrel increase, the EIA data showed.

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Net U.S. crude imports were marginally higher, rising 44,000 bpd, while exports alone fell about half a million bpd.

Barry, which came ashore on Saturday in central Louisiana as a Category 1 hurricane, prompted oil companies to shut almost 74 percent of production at U.S. Gulf of Mexico platforms ahead of the storm, the U.S. offshore drilling regulator said.

However, gasoline stocks USOILG=ECI rose 3.6 million barrels, compared with analysts' expectations in a Reuters poll for a 925,000-barrel drop.

Tension between the US and Iran over Tehran's nuclear program have previously given support to oil futures prices, given the potential for a price spike should the situation deteriorate.

The U.S. drilling regulator said 1.1 million barrels per day of oil, or 58% of the region's total, remained shut.

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