Oil prices fall on eve of US inventory data

18th February 2015, Comments 0 comments

Oil prices fell on Wednesday before the release of a report on US crude inventories and as traders kept an eye on the crisis in crude exporter Libya.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for delivery in March shed $1.35 to $52.18 a barrel compared with Tuesday's close.

Brent North Sea crude for April delivery slid $1.46 to stand at $61.07 a barrel in late London deals.

The US Department of Energy will release its weekly stockpiles report on Thursday, with analysts expecting an increase in crude inventories.

Last week's report showed that US crude inventories already reached their highest levels on record for this time of the year.

Rising crude stockpiles indicate softer demand in the world's biggest economy and top oil-consuming nation and is a dampener on prices.

Ahead of Thursday's report, official data showed US industrial output rebounded modestly in January after slowing the previous month, with production of business and consumer goods and utility output offsetting the oil and gas sector slowdown.

The Federal Reserve's monthly industrial production index released Wednesday rose 0.2 percent to 106.2 in January, and was up 4.8 percent over 12 months.

Traders were also keeping an eye on developments in north African crude oil producer Libya.

Infighting and sabotage in Libya has reduced output to 150,000 barrels a day, down from a high of almost 1.5 million barrels per day, according to analysts.

Egypt has meanwhile pushed for action against jihadists in Libya ahead of a UN Security Council meeting Wednesday but faced reluctance from Western powers who stressed the need for a political solution.

After launching air strikes against Islamic State group targets in Libya this week in response to the jihadists' beheadings of Egyptian Christians, Cairo has asked the Security Council to provide a mandate for an international intervention.

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© 2015 AFP

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