Oil prices rebound as US gasoline stocks fall
Oil prices rebounded Wednesday after recent losses as data showed stockpiles of motor fuel slumped ten times more than expected in key energy market the United States.
Brent North Sea crude for delivery in May gained $1.39 to $122.31 a barrel in late London deals.
New York's main contract, light sweet crude for May, added 58 cents to $106.83.
The US Department of Energy said that inventories of gasoline, or petrol, tumbled 7.0 million barrels last week. Analysts had forecast a much smaller drop of 700,000 barrels.
The weekly US data is closely watched as the United States is the world's biggest consumer of oil, especially as the country gears up for the summer holidays when demand rises sharply.
"The big number this week was the large draw in gasoline stocks which means total gasoline stocks are now almost down to the 5-year average," said DnB NOR Markets analyst Torbjorn Kjus
"The gasoline stock draws this spring have been record high, supported by large exports and low refinery runs, instead of strong demand," he noted.
Elsewhere Wednesday, OPEC member Kuwait halted oil exports as a "precautionary measure" after a blinding dust storm hit the desert Gulf state, a spokesman said.
Oil exports at terminals, receiving vessels in addition to certain maintenance works at oil refineries, have been "halted as a precautionary measure," Sheikh Talal Al-Sabah said in a statement.
He said that the suspension will not affect Kuwait's commitments to its clients as exports will resume immediately after the storm.
Kuwait, OPEC's fifth-largest producer, pumps around 2.3 million barrels of crude oil daily.
Oil prices fell Tuesday after US bank Goldman Sachs warned that commodity markets were showing signs that the high prices were eroding demand.
The same day, the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) published bearish oil demand forecasts.
The Paris-based IEA issued a grim warning that recent high price levels have hurt global energy demand.
On Monday, the International Monetary Fund warned that high oil prices posed a key risk to global economic recovery.
© 2011 AFP