Oil up over 6 percent as dollar falls on worry of slow U.S. rate hike

Wed Mar 18, 2015 5:21pm EDT
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By Barani Krishnan

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oil prices jumped as much as 6 percent on Wednesday as the dollar fell after the Federal Reserve indicated it preferred a more gradual path to normalizing U.S. interest rates despite being open to the first rate hike in almost a decade.

Benchmark Brent oil saw choppy moves earlier while U.S. crude prices fell after data pointing to the highest oil inventories in the United States in at least 80 years.

The dollar's tumble on the Fed's latest policy statement changed the market's direction.

"Well, we thought we'll have some fireworks today and certainly got that with the Fed's stance and the dollar's tumble," said Tariq Zahir, managing member at Tyche Capital Advisors in Laurel Hollow in New York.

"But to me, the bottom line is the gains we have seen will be short lived, maybe through next week at most, as the fundamental data week after week shows we still have a tremendous amount of oil in storage that's growing."

The U.S. government said crude inventories rose 9.6 million barrels to 458.51 million barrels in the week to March 13, the highest since the EIA began keeping a weekly record. [EIA/S]

John Kilduff, partner at New York energy fund Again Capital, concurred the stockpiles were "too big a factor to ignore" and considered another downturn in prices.

"Speculation over storage capacity limits will only increase," he said, referring to concerns the United States was running out of places to store oil.   Continued...

A pump jack is seen at sunrise near Bakersfield, California October 14, 2014. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/Files