* Crude stockpiles still high, seen falling, Reuters poll
* U.S. Fed meeting minutes released on Wednesday
* Coming up: API data on Tuesday, EIA data on Wednesday
(Adds settlement prices.)
By Jeanine Prezioso
NEW YORK May 20 Crude oil prices rose on Monday
against a weaker dollar, but ample oil supplies limited gains,
even as equity markets hovered at record levels.
The dollar extended losses against the euro as foreign
exchange traders let up on expectations Federal Reserve Chairman
Ben Bernanke would hint at cutting back on U.S. bond purchases.
"The dollar's move has been pretty strong lately, maybe
you're seeing a little more profit taking," said Gene McGillian,
an analyst with Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut.
The U.S. dollar fell 0.6 percent to 83.764 against a basket
of six currencies. Crude oil prices are denominated in
U.S. dollars and when the value of the currency sinks, prices
tend to rise to offset the weakness.
MSCI's all-country world equity index rose
0.51 percent to its highest since June 2008.
"Although the energy complex is still encountering a mix of
both bullish and bearish macroeconomic drivers, it now appears
in a mode in which it is picking and choosing, while
prioritising bullish rather than bearish movers," Jim
Ritterbusch, president of Ritterbusch Associates in Galena,
Illinois, said in a report.
"Today's new all-time highs in the stock market kept
speculative flows largely concentrated on the buy side."
Brent crude for July edged up above $105 per barrel,
hitting a high of $105.31 during the session, but was unable to
hold its gains. Brent settled 16 cents higher at $104.80 per
barrel, breaching the 50-day moving average.
U.S. crude futures for June delivery, which expire at
the end of trading on Tuesday, ended the day up 69 cents or,
0.72 percent, at $96.71 per barrel. U.S. crude managed above the
10-and-15 day moving averages on a continuation chart.
Crude bulls tried to push prices higher, but high stocks of
the fuel tapered gains. The closer the market pushes to the 2013
U.S. crude oil high of $98 per barrel, the more resistance it
faces, McGillian added.
The International Energy Agency expects weaker demand growth
for oil in 2013, along with higher supply.
Commercial domestic stockpiles of crude hit 395.5 million
barrels in the week to May 3, according to the data from the
U.S. Energy Information Administration, the highest level since
the agency began keeping records in 1982.
Crude oil stockpiles have since eased, but remain high.
Stockpiles likely fell for a second consecutive week on higher
refinery activity and lower imports, a preliminary Reuters poll
of seven analysts showed on Monday.
FED, MIDDLE EAST UNCERTAINTY
Markets are largely waiting on what the U.S. Federal Reserve
will do with its monetary policy.
The Fed is currently buying $85 billion in Treasuries and
mortgage-backed securities each month to keep down borrowing
costs. This policy could end by autumn if the labor market
continues to recover, Chicago Fed President Charles Evans said
The Fed ending its bond buying programs would support a
stronger dollar, analysts said, meaning weaker oil prices.
Oil markets also found some support from tension in the
Middle East, which raised worries about the security of supply
from the biggest producing region.
Syrian activists said about 30 Lebanese Hezbollah fighters
and 20 Syrian soldiers and militiamen loyal to President Bashar
al-Assad have been killed this year. This reflects the extent to
which Syria is becoming a proxy conflict between Shi'ite Iran
and Gulf Arab states such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which back
Assad's mostly Sunni enemies.
(Additional reporting by Christopher Johnson in London and
Robert Gibbons in New York.; Editing by Alison Birrane and David