Futures Movers: Oil edges lower ahead of inventory data

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Oil futures edged lower Wednesday as traders awaited the government’s take on U.S. crude inventories.

West Texas Intermediate crude for December delivery CLZ19, +0.07%  was down 18 cents, or 0.3%, at $55.36 a barrel. January Brent crude BRNF20, +0.28%, the global benchmark, edged 4 cents lower to $61.19 a barrel, off 0.1%.

The American Petroleum Institute, an industry trade group, late Tuesday said U.S. crude inventories fell last week, though news reports disagreed over the size of the decline. Analysts said the focus instead was on a reported rise in API’s estimate of crude supplies at Cushing, Oklahoma, the Nymex delivery hub, that were keeping a lid on WTI futures.

API saw inventories at Cushing rise by 1.2 million barrels, said Warren Patterson, head of commodities strategy at ING. Stocks at the hub have been trending higher since late September, which has put pressure on nearby contract months relative to later months, he noted.

The Energy Information Administration’s more closely followed round of weekly inventory data is due Wednesday morning. They’re expected to show overall U.S. crude inventories up by 2.5 million barrels last week, according to analysts polled by S&P Global Platts. They also forecast supply declines of 2.5 million barrels for gasoline and 2.4 million barrels for distillates.

In other energy trading, December gasoline RBZ19, +1.00%  rose 0.5% to $1.6497, while December heating oil HOZ19, +0.16%  was off 0.2% at $1.9429.

December natural gas NGZ19, +1.02%  was up 0.5% at $2.651 per million British thermal units.