Oil Prices Edge Lower Ahead of U.S. Stock Draws

By Neanda Salvaterra and Alison SiderFeaturesDow Jones Newswires

Oil prices edged lower Thursday as traders awaited data on U.S. oil stockpiles.

U.S. crude futures fell 6 cents, or 0.1%, to $59.58 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent, the global benchmark, fell 6 cents, or 0.09%, to $66.38 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe.

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Both grades have approached their highest levels since 2015 amid thin trading over the Christmas holiday and ahead of New Year.

Prices were boosted after the American Petroleum Institute on Wednesday said U.S. crude inventories declined by 6 million barrels for the week ended Dec. 22.

The Energy Information Administration will release official data later Thursday.

Crude futures were buoyed earlier in the week by an explosion on a pipeline that feeds Libya's largest oil port. The explosion was caused by sabotage but it is unclear who was behind it, according to two Libyan oil officials.

The effect of the incident has been somewhat more muted than initially anticipated. Some 70,000 barrels of crude production a day is shut in, compared with early estimates that up to 100,000 barrels a day could be affected, and the pipeline is likely to be repaired within six days, the officials said. Until then, some loadings have continued, albeit at a slower rate.

Repairs on the Forties Pipeline System in the North Sea, which stopped the flow of 450,000 barrels a day, have also been progressing. The pipeline operator Ineos said Tuesday the Forties should be fully operational early in the New Year.

Gasoline futures recently fell 0.57%, to $1.7812 a gallon. Diesel futures rose 0.43%, to $2.0489 a gallon.

--Benoit Faucon contributed to this article.

Write to Neanda Salvaterra at neanda.salvaterra@wsj.com and Alison Sider at alison.sider@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 28, 2017 10:41 ET (15:41 GMT)