Markets: Crude cools after strong rise

Crude oil prices dipped on Thursday after a strong rise in the previous session while base metals made modest gains and sugar prices extended their advance, helped by a recovery in risk appetite.

In energy markets, Nymex September West Texas Intermediate dipped 7 cents to $72.35 a barrel after jumping $3.23 on Wednesday following the latest US inventories data which showed a big drop in crude stocks. The September contract was due to expire on Thursday and the October WTI contract traded 26 cents lower at $73.57 after rising $2.75 on Wednesday.

ICE October Brent lost 42 cents at $74.19 after gained $2.22 on Wednesday.

US inventories data released on Wednesday showed a huge fall of 8.4m barrels in crude stocks last week, confounding the consensus forecast for a rise of 1.3m barrels. The drop was mainly from a big drop in imports, down 1.42m barrels a day to 8.11m b/d last week.

Traders were uncertain whether this was a one-off caused by delays in tanker arrivals or if cargoes bound for the US were being diverted elsewhere because of the substantial differential that had opened up between prices for Brent and WTI crude.

Demand for crude from US refineries remained anaemic with refinery utilisation up 0.5 percentage points to 84 per cent following four weeks of declines.

Petrol inventories fell 2.1m barrels, almost double the consensus forecast for a drop of 1.1m barrels. Demand showed modest signs of improvement, averaging 9.13m b/d in the past four weeks, down 0.1 per cent from the same period a year ago.

On Thursday, Nymex September RBOB unleaded gasoline traded flat at $2.0335 a gallon.

Distillate stocks (including heating oil) fell 700,000 barrels, compared with the consensus forecast for an increase of 600,000 barrels. However, distillate demand, which is linked to transportation and industrial activity, remained weak, averaging 3.34m b/d in the past four weeks, down 9.1 per cent from the same period a year ago.

On Thursday, Nymex September heating oil released just under one cent to $1.9095 a gallon.

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