Markets: Oil steadies

Oil prices managed a partial recovery on Thursday after falling more than $2 a barrel in the previous session, while base metals were firmer as commodity markets steadied ahead of data expected to show that the US economy escaped recession in the third quarter.

The consensus forecast was for US gross domestic product to have expanded at an annualised rate of 3.2 per cent in the third quarter following an 0.7 per cent contraction in the previous three months.

Nymex December West Texas Intermediate rose 44 cents at $77.90 a barrel, while ICE December Brent added 44 cents at $76.30 a barrel.

Crude oil prices fell more than $2 a barrel on Wednesday, under pressure initially from further strengthening in the dollar, disappointing consumer confidence data and weakness in the US equity market.

Oil’s downward shift strengthened once the latest US weekly inventories results were released. Petrol stocks rose 1.7m barrels compared with the consensus forecast for a drop of 800,000 barrels, underlining concerns about ongoing softness in US demand.

Technical traders are concerned that prices have moved below key support levels across the crude, heating oil and gasoline markets.

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