SINGAPORE, (AP) -Oil prices climbed above $60 a barrel in Asian trading Thursday after the U.S. government reported a greater-than-expected drop in gasoline stockpiles.
Light, sweet crude for May delivery rose 47 cents to $60.08 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange midday in Singapore.
Brent crude contract for May gained 47 cents to $61.24 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.
U.S. gasoline stocks declined by 3.4 million barrels to 210.5 million barrels in the week ended March 16, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s weekly report. The drop was larger than the 1.6 million barrel drop forecast by analysts surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires.
“The market reacted to the larger-than-expected draw in gasoline inventories even though the inventory report showed somewhat mixed results,” said energy analyst Victor Shum, of Purvin & Gertz in Singapore. “The market simply ignored the crude inventory build but focused more on the gasoline inventory drawdown.”
Crude prices rose 36 cents Wednesday, settling at $59.61 a barrel, even though the report showed U.S. crude oil inventories rose by 4 million barrels to 329.3 million barrels, more than expected. Distillate stocks, which include heating oil and diesel, fell by 1.7 million barrels.
Oil prices continue to supported by strong demand for oil products in the U.S. and Asia, Shum said.
“Demand for oil products remains good. Even though the recent turmoil in the global equities market raised some concern about the state of the U.S. and Chinese economy, none of that really has shown in oil demand,” he said.
A plunge in Wall Street last week stirred concerns about the U.S. economy’s health and future demand for energy. Asian markets also fell, but have since bounced back.
In other Nymex trading, heating oil futures for April contract added 0.69 cents to $1.6715 a gallon while natural gas prices gained 1.4 cents to $7.174 per 1,000 cubic feet.