Oil declined as U.S. industry data showed gasoline stockpiles expanded at a time they typically fall, while Nigeria pressed on with the resumption of a key export grade.
Futures slid as much as 1.3 percent in New York. The American Petroleum Institute was said to report late Tuesday that stockpiles of the motor fuel increased by 4.08 million barrels last week. Government data Wednesday is forecast to show supplies fell for a fifth week. Royal Dutch Shell Plc lifted restrictions on exports of a key Nigerian crude halted for more than a year, potentially undermining the efforts of other OPEC members to clear a glut.
Oil has struggled to stay above $50 a barrel amid speculation that rising U.S. output will counter supply curbs by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its partners, including Russia. American crude production will average more than 10 million barrels a day in 2018, breaking a record almost five decades old, according to the Energy Information Administration’s monthly Short-Term Energy Outlook report Tuesday.
“The persistent supply surplus, doubts about the OPEC deal’s effectiveness and the revived U.S. shale boom remain the dominant themes,” said Norbert Ruecker, head of commodities research at Julius Baer Group Ltd. in Zurich.
West Texas Intermediate for July delivery slid 58 cents to $47.61 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange 9:19 a.m. in New York. Total volume traded was about 11 percent above the 100-day average. Prices rose 79 cents to close at $48.19 Tuesday after declining in the previous two sessions.
Brent for August settlement was 56 cents lower at $49.56 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. Prices climbed 65 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $50.12 on Tuesday. The global benchmark crude traded at a premium of $1.75 to WTI, the lowest since February.
U.S. gasoline stockpiles probably fell by 50,000 barrels last week, according to the median forecast in a Bloomberg survey before the EIA report. Nationwide crude inventories probably slid 3.25 million barrels for a ninth straight loss. Crude supplies shrank by 4.62 million barrels, the API reported.