Crude-oil futures settled slightly higher Tuesday along with broader markets, as traders await weekly government data that is expected to show a decline in domestic oil stockpiles.
Light, sweet crude for August delivery settled higher by 14 cents, or 0.2%, at $95.32 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. ICE North Sea Brent crude oil for August delivery settled 10 cents higher at $101.26 a barrel.
Oil traders closely watch for weekly data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration due Wednesday as it is considered a good gauge of the supply and demand for U.S. oil.
"Everyone is looking for a drawdown in inventories. That has given the market a little bit of a spark," said Addison Armstrong, senior director for market research at Tradition Energy.
Data from the EIA is expected to show that domestic oil inventories fell by 1.7 million barrels for the week ended June 21, according to a Dow Jones Newswires survey of analysts.
These analysts expect gasoline stockpiles to increase by 660,000 barrels, and stocks of distillate, which include heating oil and diesel, to have increased by 500,000 barrels last week. Refiners are expected to increase operations by 0.3 percentage point, according to the survey.
Crude-oil prices wavered for much of the session with the market "battling the strength of the dollar," on one hand and "the increase in the equities market" on the other, said Tony Headrick, energy market analyst at CHS Hedging.
Since crude oil is denominated in U.S. dollars, a stronger dollar makes it more expensive for overseas buyers who hold other currencies. The ICE dollar index, which measures the value of the dollar against a basket of currencies, was recently 0.2% higher compared to Monday.
But oil prices received support from equities, which were boosted by better-than-expected U.S. economic data. The increase in orders for durable goods, the S&P Case-Shiller Index which measures existing-home prices across 20 cities in the U.S., and the Conference Board's consumer-confidence index all beat expectations. Traders take buoyant economic growth as a cue for greater oil demand in the U.S., the world's largest consumer of oil.
Front-month July reformulated gasoline blendstock, or RBOB, settled 0.02 cent lower at $2.7374 a gallon. July heating oil settled 0.37 cent higher at $2.8584 a gallon.
Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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