Nymex Oil Tops $46/Bbl on Reports of Saudi Cut

OTTAWA (Dow Jones Newswires), December 10, 2008

Crude oil futures shrugged off bearish U.S. oil inventory data Wednesday, focusing on reports that Saudi Arabia could cut oil supplies next month.

Rebounding stock markets also gave crude a boost.

Light, sweet crude for January delivery was up $3.02, or 7.2%, at $45.09 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, after trading as high as $46.17 a barrel. Brent crude on the ICE futures exchange was up $2.46 at $43.99 a barrel.

After sliding in the wake of rising U.S. stockpiles of crude and refined fuels, crude reversed direction on reports that Saudi Arabia had informed its customers of "significant" supply cuts from January. Crude then broke through a key technical level of $45.30 a barrel, triggering further buying, said Tony Rosado, an oil broker at GA Global Markets in New York.

Further buoyancy came from renewed optimism in the stock markets, which rallied on indications that Congress would pass the bailout package to aid U.S. auto makers.

"I think everybody was trying to see if the bailout plan would help the marketplace," Rosado said. "It did."

Earlier, the Energy Information Administration reported that U.S. crude stockpiles rose about 400,000 barrels in the week ended Dec. 5, less than half the amount analysts had expected.

Gasoline stocks rose 3.7 million barrels, while analysts polled by Dow Jones Newswires had expected a 500,000-barrel drawdown. Stocks of distillates, which include heating oil and diesel, climbed 5.6 million barrels, while the survey had forecast a 1.4-million-barrel draw.

Front-month January reformulated gasoline blendstock, or RBOB, was up 5.56 cents, or 5.9%, at 99.20 cents a gallon. January heating oil was 2.06 cents higher at $1.4575 a gallon.  

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