Oil hit by stockpile fears; dollar offsets some loss

Tue Mar 17, 2015 5:33pm EDT
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By Barani Krishnan

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oil prices came under renewed pressure in Tuesday's post-settlement trade, after a 3-day losing streak, as an industry group reported a huge build in U.S. crude inventories ahead of official data.

Benchmark Brent oil had earlier ended up for the session, supported by a weaker dollar and short-covering, while U.S. crude closed down on bets that inventories hit record highs for a 10th straight week.

Industry group American Petroleum Institute (API) said after the market's settlement that crude stockpiles rose by 10.5 million barrels in the week to March 13, far ahead of the 3.8 million forecast by analysts polled by Reuters. If correct, the API number would lift total U.S. inventories to 450 million barrels.

Official inventory data will be issued on Wednesday by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Market participants view the API's number as a precursor to the EIA, although the two have often diverged.

Brent's new front-month May contract traded as low as $53.15 a barrel by 4:43 p.m. EDT (2043 GMT) after the release of the API data. It had settled the session at $53.51, up 7 cents from Monday, when the previous front-month closed at $53.44.

U.S. crude's front-month fell to as low as $42.61 a barrel post-settlement, down $1.27. It had settled the session 42 cents lower at $43.46.

Technical charts show brittle support for U.S. crude at above $40, suggesting it could fall to between $37 and $32, analysts have said.   Continued...

An oil pumpjack operates near Williston, North Dakota January 23, 2015.  REUTERS/Andrew Cullen