SINGAPORE–Oil prices fell to near US$96 a barrel Wednesday in Asia, extending a weeklong slump after a report showed U.S. crude supplies jumped more than expected last week, suggesting demand remains weak. Benchmark oil for June delivery was down 73 cents to US$96.28 a barrel at late afternoon Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 93 cents to settle at US$97.01 in New York on Tuesday. Brent crude for June delivery was down 35 cents at US$112.38 per barrel in London. In other energy trading, heating oil was down 1.5 cents at US$2.98 per gallon and gasoline futures slid 0.2 cents to US$2.99 per gallon. Natural gas added 3.7 cents at US$2.43 per 1,000 cubic feet.
The American Petroleum Institute said late Tuesday that crude inventories rose 7.8 million barrels last week while analysts surveyed by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos., had predicted an increase of 2.2 million barrels. Inventories of gasoline fell 5 million barrels last week while distillates tumbled 2.7 million barrels, the API said. The Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration reports its weekly supply data later Wednesday. Crude has dropped from US$106 last week amid signs the U.S. and European economies may expand less than previously expected this year. Despite the recent sharp pullback in oil prices, some analysts say crude still trades above the level supply and demand fundamentals would suggest.