Oil falls for fifth day on U.S. crude glut

By Joshua Schneyer

NEW YORK (BestGrowthStock) – U.S. oil futures fell for a fifth straight session on Tuesday on investor concern over rising U.S. crude stockpiles and the effect high oil prices could have on the fragile economic recovery.

The latest Reuters poll of analysts forecast U.S. crude stocks rose for the 11th straight time last week, by 1.5 million barrels to around 357.7 million barrels. That would be their highest level since June of 2009. (EIA/S: )

In the heaviest volume of trading since February 5, front-month U.S. crude futures fell 29 cents to settle at $84.05 a barrel. Oil for May delivery recovered from deeper losses earlier in the day, when prices fell as low as $82.51, after U.S. equities gained and the dollar weakened. (.N: ) (.DXY: )

A sustained boost in U.S. crude stocks draws into question the pace of a U.S. economic recovery and prospects for fuel demand, leading investors to sell oil after prices surged to 18-month highs above $87 a barrel last week.

The American Petroleum Institute will release its weekly U.S. stocks (Read more about the stock market today. ) report on Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. EDT (2030 GMT). The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s data will follow on Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. EDT (1430 GMT).

“The petroleum markets are coming under selling pressure,” said Tim Evans, energy analyst at Citi Futures Perspective in New York, in a written note.

“Ten weeks of rising DOE (U.S.) crude stocks are part of the story here, with expectations for a further build in the week ended April 9,” he added.

Brent crude oil, which serves as the main benchmark in Europe, Asia and Africa, rose 6 cents a barrel to $84.72, extending the premium Brent gained over U.S. crude on Monday for the first time this year.

While rising crude stocks in the United States are an indicator of tepid fuel demand in the world’s top consuming country, Paris-based International Energy Agency said on Tuesday that global oil demand is still expected to rebound sharply this year, to record levels, after falling since its previous peak in 2007.

In a monthly report, the IEA predicted that average world oil demand in 2010 would rise to a record 86.6 million barrels per day (bpd), up 100,000 bpd from a previous forecast, as rapid growth of 1.67 million bpd wipes out two years of falling consumption.

But IEA warned that high oil prices could hit demand, and it also forecast faster crude supply growth from non-OPEC countries than previously expected, as big producers pump more oil to capitalize on higher oil prices this year.

“We have been seeing anecdotal evidence of supply increases for some time, and this confirms the trend that supplies are improving,” investment bank JP Morgan said in its Daily Oil Note.

U.S. equities firmed in late trade, helping oil prices to pare earlier losses, on investor expectations that U.S. companies would report higher first-quarter earnings amid an economic recovery. The Dow Jones industrial average was up 0.2 percent, and remained above 11,000 points.

The U.S. dollar weakened against a basket of foreign currencies. Oil, priced in dollars, often firms when the dollar weakens, making the commodity cheaper for holders of other currencies. (.DXY: )

U.S. supplies of distillates, including heating oil and diesel, are predicted to have climbed 1 million barrels last week, though gasoline stocks were expected to have fallen by 700,000 barrels, according to a Reuters poll.

U.S. retail gasoline demand dropped 3.6 percent in the week to April 9, and fell 1.1 percent from the same week of 2009, according to a weekly survey on Tuesday from MaterCard SpendingPulse.

IEA’s monthly oil market report details the shifting balance in world oil consumption between the developed world and emerging nations.

While members of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) have seen their total oil consumption fall by 5.1 million bpd since 2006 to 45.4 million bpd, rapid growth in nations like China and India has seen non-OECD demand soar by 5.5 million bpd to 41.2 million bpd over the same period.

A Reuters survey ahead of China’s publication of GDP data on Thursday showed the Asian powerhouse’s economy probably grew 11.5 percent in the first quarter.

OPEC delegates indicated they would consider raising crude output if prices rose to $90-$95 a barrel.

In Venezuela, one of the Western Hemisphere’s top oil exporters, some 800 contractors halted oilfield activities amid a pay dispute. The stoppage is not expected to have any immediate effect on Venezuelan crude production, according to state oil firm PDVSA, since it was carried out on oil rigs that weren’t actively pumping oil.

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(Additional reporting by David Sheppard in London, Robert Gibbons and Gene Ramos in New York, Alejandro Barbajosa and Wang Tao in Singapore)

Oil falls for fifth day on U.S. crude glut