Oil futures mixed after surge on U.S. stock draw

Wed Aug 8, 2012 3:53pm EDT
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By Gene Ramos

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oil futures turned mixed in late trading on Wednesday after leaping to three-month highs on U.S. government data showing a sharp drawdown in domestic crude stockpiles last week and amid worries about lower North Sea oil production.

Trading was choppy and the pace accelerated late in the session, with U.S. crude closing lower for the first time in four sessions. After turning negative late, Brent crude recovered and posted small gain for the day.

Hopes for more monetary stimulus from the U.S. Federal Reserve to help keep economic growth from stalling kept U.S. crude's losses in check.

Expectations that the European Central Bank would act soon to help debt-strapped members of the euro zone helped Brent crude from falling to negative territory at the close.

In London, Brent crude futures for September delivery settled at $112.14 a barrel, edging up 14 cents. In the morning, it shot up to an intraday high of $113.27 a barrel, the highest since May 8, after the EIA data.

U.S. September crude closed at $93.35, down 32 cents. It hit a session high of $94.72, the highest since May 15.

"Despite the big drawdown in crude stocks, U.S. inventories are still above their five-year average," said Gene McGillian, analyst at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut.

U.S. crude oil stocks fell 3.7 million barrels to 369.9 million in the week to August 3, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said, well above the forecast in a Reuters poll for a 300,000-barrels drawdown.   Continued...

An attendant prepares to refuel a car at a petrol station in Rome January 4, 2012. REUTERS/Max Rossi