Brent Steady, US Crude Down Ahead Of Contract Expiry


NEW YORK, Nov 19 (Reuters) - Brent oil futures settled steady on Thursday while U.S. crude fell ahead of the expiry of the front-month contract and continued pressure from large inventory builds.

A weaker dollar and stronger refining margins for gasoline, which could prompt refiners to turn more crude into the motor fuel, helped limit the downside in crude.

The dollar fell to a near one-week low against a basket of currencies, making crude and other commodities denominated in the greenback more affordable for holders of currencies, such as the euro.

U.S. gasoline futures rose more than 1 percent to above $1.28 a gallon after a report of delays in Irving Oil's restart of the gasoline-making unit at its 300,000-barrels-per-day refinery in St. John, New Brunswick.

Brent futures settled up 4 cents at $44.18 a barrel, after hitting a low of $43.70 earlier in the session.

U.S. crude's West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures settled down 21 cents at $40.54. It had earlier snapped below the key $40-a-barrel support for a second time since Wednesday.

"The dollar is certainly helping commodities today," said Scott Shelton, energy broker and commodities specialist at ICAP in Durham, North Carolina.


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