Oil prices fall in Asian trade before supply data


SINGAPORE–Oil prices fell in Asia Wednesday as dealers await the latest U.S. supply report for clues about production levels, while weak Chinese and German trade data also weighed, analysts said.

U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate for January delivery slipped 86 cents to US$62.96 while Brent crude for January was down 81 cents at US$66.03 in afternoon trade.

Analysts surveyed by The Wall Street Journal said they expected domestic inventories to have fallen by 2.7 million barrels in the week to Dec. 5.

Industry group the American Petroleum Institute in its own survey, however, predicted stockpiles had risen by 4.4 million barrels.

It also said refinery operations likely increased 1.6 percentage points to 94.6 percent of capacity.

The Department of Energy will release the official stockpiles report later Wednesday.

The department on Tuesday modestly reduced its 2015 U.S. oil production forecast to 9.3 million barrels per day from the previous 9.4 million estimate. German exports slipped 0.5 percent month-on-month in October, while imports fell 3.1 percent. That came a day after China said exports grew just 4.7 percent year-on-year in November and imports dropped 6.7 percent. Trade figures out of Germany and China, both manufacturing giants, are closely watched for their impact on crude prices, especially the more international Brent contract.