Price of crude near US$101 as American supplies rise

By Pamela Sampson, AP

BANGKOK–Oil prices clawed back a little ground Thursday, a day after a big drop precipitated by an increase in U.S. crude inventories.

Benchmark oil for November delivery was up 15 cents to US$101.76 a barrel at midday Bangkok time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract for the benchmark grade fell US$1.88 to close at US$101.61 on Wednesday.

The American Petroleum Institute said crude supplies rose by 2.7 million barrels to 366.5 million barrels for the week ending Oct. 4. The U.S. Energy Department said supplies rose by 6.8 million barrels. The jump in stockpiles comes at a time of year when demand from oil refineries is seasonally weak.

“Supply is relatively plentiful and inventories are building up again as the summer driving season ends,” said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets in Sydney.

Oil prices have bounced between US$101 and US$104 a barrel after the U.S. government was forced to partially halt operations last week. The shutdown occurred after Congress failed to pass a bill on short-term funding for the nation past the end of the government’s fiscal year on Sept. 30.

Brent, the benchmark for international crudes, rose 45 cents to US$109.51 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

In other energy futures trading on Nymex:

— Wholesale gasoline rose 1.3 cents to US$2.636 per gallon.

— Natural gas rose 3.8 cents to US$3.717 per 1,000 cubic feet.

— Heating oil rose 0.7 cent to US$3.024 per gallon.