Oil Higher Ahead of Supply Data

NEW YORK (DTN) -- New York Mercantile Exchange oil futures moved higher at the start of regular trade Wednesday morning ahead of the release of oil inventory data for the week-ended Sept. 2, with a weaker U.S. dollar also providing support for the oil futures complex.

At last look, NYMEX October WTI crude futures were up 31cts at $45.14 bbl while the November Brent crude futures contract on IntercontinentalExchange was up 26cts at $47.52 bbl after inside trade. NYMEX October ULSD futures edged up 0.99cts to $1.4184 gallon while NYMEX October RBOB futures were 1.76cts higher at $1.3340 gallon.

The dollar traded near a two-week low, with the greenback under pressure on diminished expectations the Federal Reserve would hike federal funds rate this month after recent disappointing economic data that showed a sluggish manufacturing activity and a slowdown in the labor market during the month of August.

An early survey of analysts by Schneider Electric show expectations crude oil inventories were drawn down by 1.75 million bbl last week and gasoline stocks declined by 300,000 bbl while distillate stocks increased by 1.0 million bbl.

The American Petroleum Institute will release its weekly inventory data to paying customers at 4:30 PM ET. The Energy Information Administration is expected to issue its corresponding weekly data 11:00 AM ET Thursday, with both reports delayed a day by Monday's observance of Labor Day.

The EIA will also release its Short-term Energy Outlook report for September early this afternoon.

Traders continue to ponder whether an agreement announced on Monday by top oil producers Russia and Saudi Arabia to cooperate on stabilizing the oil market would succeed. It comes as the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries plans to hold informal talks to stabilize the oil market on the sidelines of the International Energy Forum set for Sept. 26-28 in Algeria. OPEC Secretary-General Mohamed Barkendo has been meeting key members to build support for a deal that could include freezing production.

The market is skeptical though, since the Saudi-Russian agreement fell short of expectations because it was tentative and took no immediate action.

Analysts also noted that output by key OPEC members was near record highs in August, and that the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran could prevent OPEC from reaching a deal similar to the derailed April OPEC talks in Qatar in April.

George Orwel can be reached at george.orwel@dtn.com