Brent slips, narrows spread vs stronger U.S. oil
By Robert Gibbons
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Brent crude prices fell and U.S. crude edged up on Tuesday, narrowing the spread between the two benchmarks, while weak gasoline futures weighed on the complex as market participants rotated positions ahead of weekly inventory reports.
U.S. gasoline fell nearly 1 percent, the biggest percentage move in the energy futures complex. Analysts cited pressure from anticipated imports, lackluster demand and weak cash price differentials.
"(A)n expected upswing in imports during the coming weeks, soft Gulf coast and Midwest cash markets and possible sale of Sunoco's Philadelphia refinery all tilt in favor of renewed gasoline futures weakness," Jim Ritterbusch, president at Ritterbusch & Associates, said in a report.
Brent's premium to the West Texas Intermediate (WTI) benchmark U.S. crude narrowed to $14.61 a barrel based on settlements, after reaching $15.80 intraday. It marked the third straight session that the spread has failed to push above last Thursday's $16.03 intraday peak.
Brent June crude fell 55 cents to settle at $118.16 a barrel, having swung from $117.85 to $118.94.
Brent briefly turned positive and U.S. crude extended gains as North Sea Forties crude, one of the four streams making up the physical portion of the Brent benchmark, has hit further delays following the weekend shutdown at the Buzzard field.
U.S. June crude rose 44 cents to settle at $103.55 a barrel, having reached $104.10. Falling to $102.79 intraday, it recovered without testing support near the 100-day moving average (MA) of $102.07.
U.S. crude tested below the 100-day MA the previous session and several times this month, after staying above level since November 1, 2011. Continued...