Oil Swings as Investors Gauge Supply

By Stephanie Yang and Jenny W. Hsu Features Dow Jones Newswires

Oil prices fluctuated between gains and losses on Monday, as investors weighed signs of strong demand against a global glut that's proven difficult to reduce.

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Light, sweet crude for August delivery was recently down 11 cents, or 0.1%, at $46.48 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, paring gains after trading as high as $46.88 earlier in the session. Brent, the global benchmark, was recently near flat at $48.92 a barrel.

While recent data has indicated increasing consumption of crude oil, market participants have grown wary of high levels of stockpiles in the wake of increasing production around the world.

U.S. production rose near a two-year high in the week ended July 7, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration from last week. Meanwhile, attempts by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to limit supply have been undermined by growing output by members such as Libya and Nigeria, which are exempt from the deal to curb production.

The International Energy Agency reported Thursday that global oil supply in June rose by 720,000 barrels a day to 97.46 million a day, on production from both OPEC and non-OPEC members.

"The supply story here just continues to weigh," said John Kilduff, founding partner at Again Capital. "It gets pushed off the main stage at times, but its still lurking and ready to hit prices again."

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Analysts said data showing positive oil demand in China provided some support for prices. On Monday, the country said its domestic daily crude production was down 5.1% in the first half of the year compared to the previous year and imports rose 14%. The IEA also recently raised its 2017 demand forecast by 100,000 barrels a day.

"There's just a lot of pushing and pulling on the market here today," Mr. Kilduff said.

U.S. crude stockpiles have also fallen by more than expected in the past week, reigniting some hopes that the rebalancing of the oil market is starting to take off. Jim Ritterbusch, president of energy-advisory firm Ritterbusch & Associates, noted that demand for products like gasoline and diesel have helped the market as well.

"We are emphasizing a surprising improvement in U.S. product demand since late spring as a significant driver of higher...prices," Mr. Ritterbusch said in a Monday note.

Gasoline futures rose 0.7% to $1.5715 a gallon and diesel futures rose 0.1% to $1.5158 a gallon.

Write to Stephanie Yang at stephanie.yang@wsj.com and Jenny W. Hsu at jenny.hsu@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

July 17, 2017 11:58 ET (15:58 GMT)