(Corrects paragraph 7 rise in inventories to 13.8 million
barrels, not 18.8 million)
By Henning Gloystein
SINGAPORE Feb 9 Oil prices rose on Thursday,
boosted by an unexpected draw in U.S. gasoline inventories,
although bloated crude supplies meant that fuel markets remain
Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for
oil prices, were trading at $55.52 per barrel at 0758 GMT, up 40
cents, or 0.7 percent, from their last close.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was up 39
cents, or 0.8 percent, at $52.73 a barrel.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on
Wednesday that gasoline stocks fell by 869,000
barrels last week to 256.2 million barrels, versus analyst
expectations for a 1.1 million-barrel gain.
Traders said that this surprise increase in U.S. gasoline
inventories had helped push up crude, although most added that
fuel markets were still bloated and that this would likely
prevent further big price rises.
"We remain highly sceptical of the overnight price action,"
said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at futures brokerage
OANDA, referring to rising crude.
U.S. commercial crude inventories soared by 13.8 million
barrels to 508.6 million barrels, according to the EIA.
U.S. bank Goldman Sachs said that high fuel inventories as
well as rising U.S. crude production mean that oil markets will
remain over-supplied for some time.
"The 4Q16 global oil market surplus led to further rises in
global inventories in January, and as a result the draws that we
expect will start from a high base," the bank said.
"U.S. production has also rebounded faster than our rig
modelling suggested ... and we view the faster shale rebound as
creating downside risk to our 2018 WTI price forecast of $55 per
barrel, but not to our expectation that the global oil market
will shift into deficit in 1H17," it added.
Ongoing high inventories undermine efforts by the
Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other
producers including Russia to cut output by almost 1.8 million
bpd during the first half of this year in order to prop up
prices and rebalance the market.
As a result, both Brent and WTI are down around 5 percent
since early January, when the OPEC-led cuts started to be
"Our 2017 Brent outlook is broadly neutral, with a $57.0 per
barrel average forecast for the year," BMI Research said.
"Agreed production cuts by OPEC and Russia are supporting
prices, but heavy refinery maintenance, and production growth in
Libya, Nigeria and the (U.S.) Permian will cap gains," it added.
(Reporting by Henning Gloystein; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell and