Singapore: Oil prices eased in Asia on Wednesday as dealers stood on the sidelines awaiting the latest US stockpiles report for clues about demand in the world's top crude consumer, analysts said. US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for September delivery fell six cents to $100.91 and Brent crude for September was down 34 cents at $107.38 in late-morning trade.
"Oil prices are quiet at the moment with investors focusing on the US stockpiles data out later in the day," said David Lennox, resource analyst at Fat Prophets in Sydney. Reserves are expected to have fallen by 1.8 million barrels on average in the week to July 25, according to analysts polled by the Wall Street Journal.
Gasoline stockpiles are expected to have risen 800,000 barrels, while stocks of distillates, which include heating oil and diesel, are also expected to have increased by one million barrels. Refinery use is expected to fall by 0.2 percentage points to 93.6 percent of capacity. Market watchers believe refineries will soon scale back output ahead of the end of the summer driving season in early September, reducing demand for crude oil.
Lennox said oil prices were also pressured following easing concerns that fresh European Union sanctions on Russia, including on the state-controlled oil company Rosneft, would immediately impact Moscow's energy exports. "The sanctions aren't likely to have any kind of immediate or short-term impact on global oil supply," Lennox said.
Desmond Chua, market analyst at CMC Markets in Singapore, said investors are keenly awaiting the release later Wednesday of US economic growth data for the April-June quarter, as well as the latest policy statement by the US Federal Reserve.
While bank policymakers are expected to keep interest rates at record lows and further cut their stimulus programme, investors are hoping for an indication that monetary policy could be tightened soon....