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Oil prices mixed ahead of US stockpiles report

SINGAPORE: Oil prices were mixed in Asia Wednesday as dealers looked ahead to the release of the latest US supply report after a sell-off in the previous session owing to price cuts by Saudi Arabia.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for December delivery rose 12 cents to $77.31 while Brent crude for December fell 20 cents to $82.62 in late-morning trade.

WTI had dropped $1.59 in New York late Tuesday to hit its lowest closing point since October 2011, as dealers continued to digest Saudi Arabia’s move to cut its prices for crude sold to the US markets.

Brent fell $1.96 in London to its lowest close since October 2010.

“Investors will next be looking to the US stockpiles report for an idea on how much supply is outstripping demand in a global market quite flush with supply,” Desmond Chua, market analyst at CMC Markets in Singapore, told AFP.

The US Department of Energy will release its official weekly stockpiles report later Wednesday.

Crude reserves in the world’s biggest economy likely rose by 2.2 million barrels on average in the week to October 31, according to analysts polled by Dow Jones Newswires.

Gasoline stockpiles are expected to have fallen by 300,000 barrels, while stocks of distillates including heating oil and diesel likely fell by 1.8 million barrels, the analysts said.

Daniel Ang, investment analyst at Phillip Futures in Singapore, said “markets are still recovering from the unexpected shock from Saudi Arabia’s price cuts.”

Analysts say the move by Saudi Arabia, kingpin of the OPEC oil-producing cartel, is an effort to hold onto market share in North America against cheaper oil flooding in from US shale fields.

Ang said prices are facing continued downward pressure with the Saudi price cut seen to be “just the beginning” and other leading OPEC producers likely to follow suit.

The 12-nation Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries will deliberate on whether to trim its current output of about 30 million barrels per day in a meeting in Vienna on November 27. (AFP)

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