LONDON (AFP) -Global crude oil prices eased as traders focused on rising US energy reserves.
In London on Thursday, the price of Brent North Sea crude for March delivery dipped six cents to 55.37 dollars per barrel in electronic trading.
New York’s main oil futures contract, light sweet crude for delivery in March, lost 14 cents to 55.23 dollars per barrel in electronic deals before the official opening of the market.
Crude futures had closed higher on Wednesday as chillier temperatures continued across the United States, reversing earlier declines in reaction to swelling US energy stocks, traders said.
Rising stockpiles have pressured prices following sharp gains made on Tuesday in reaction to plans by US President George W. Bush to double the country’s emergency oil reserves by 2027.
“We are pushing into February here and the inventory levels are quite high right now,” said Steve Rowles, an analyst with CFC Seymour Securities in Hong Kong.
“It is continuing to show that demand has slowed down because of the warmer temperature in the United States earlier this year,” he said.
The US Department of Energy (DoE) said that US stocks of distillate products, such as heating oil and diesel fuel, increased 700,000 barrels to 142.6 million in the week ended January 19.
That confounded analysts’ consensus forecasts for a decline of 250,000 barrels.
US crude reserves, meanwhile, rose 700,000 barrels to 322.2 million barrels, the DoE report showed.
Stockpiles are however expected to show a decline in next week’s report after temperatures in the US fell in recent days with snow storms reported in many areas.