LONDON - Oil dipped on Thursday as dealers squared positions before the European Central Bank’s interest rate decision and the latest snapshot of US crude inventories, analysts said.
Brent North Sea crude for October dropped 14 cents to $102.63 per barrel in late morning London deals. US benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for October delivery slid 28 cents to $95.26 a barrel. The market spotlight was on the European Central Bank, which was to decide on Thursday if and how to deal with the threat of deflation in the 18-member eurozone.
“Investors will be keeping an eye on the key release of the ECB report for a highly expected monetary policy update from the ECB,” noted Sucden analyst Myrto Sokou.
The focus will also be on the latest official petroleum stockpiles report from the US government’s Department of Energy (DoE). “Investors (remain) cautious awaiting the key release of the US DoE oil inventories report,” added Sokou.
The weekly report is due for publication later Thursday, a day later than usual owing to the Labor Day holiday on Monday.
Analysts polled by the Wall Street Journal estimate that crude reserves in the world’s top oil consumer fell by 1.1 million barrels on average in the week ended August 29. Gasoline stockpiles are expected to have fallen 1.4 million barrels, while stocks of distillates, including heating oil and diesel, are expected to decrease by 200,000 barrels.
New York oil prices jumped by $2.66 on Wednesday, recovering from a more than $3 drop the prior day, as Russian President Vladimir Putin unveiled a peace plan for Ukraine to end the months-long conflict that has claimed some 2,600 lives.
Brent had spiked $2.43 in London trade to $102.77, coming back from a fall Tuesday to its lowest level since May 2013.
The rally on Wednesday was partly due to “expectations of a boost in demand” after the eventual resolution of the Ukraine conflict, said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets in Sydney.