Wednesday, August 27 08:38:00
Brent crude nudged up towards $103 a barrel on Wednesday, recovering from a 14-month low hit last week although bountiful global supplies are checking gains.
Oil benchmarks on both sides of the Atlantic Basin have likely bottomed out after losing more than $10 since mid-June, analysts and traders said.
Still, both Brent and West Texas Intermediate remain on track to post a second monthly fall against a backdrop of lower U.S. crude imports and slowing demand in China and Europe.
"We are seeing softer than expected demand and in the absence of any further disturbing developments in geopolitical areas, the pressure remains on the energy complex," said Michael McCarthy, chief strategist at CMC Markets in Sydney.
October Brent crude was at $102.72 a barrel, up 22 cents, by 0647 GMT. U.S. crude edged up 5 cents to $93.91 a barrel after settling 51 cents higher on Tuesday on stronger durable goods orders and consumer confidence data.
OPEC producers Iraq and Libya have kept up output despite political upheaval, and the rising threat from the Islamist State in northern Iraq has not kept oil exports from the south from holding at near-record levels.
And while the United States has stepped up action against the Islamist State, seeking to identify targets for potential airstrikes in Syria, investors are discounting the possibility of supply disruptions.
In Europe, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko promised after late-night negotiations with Russia's Vladimir Putin to work on a ceasefire plan to defuse the separatist conflict in the east of his former Soviet republic.
Any significant moves towards a truce between Kiev and two rebel eastern regions could mean an eventual move towards ending sanctions on Russia that have hurt growth and oil demand.
Technical charts showed that Brent may retest resistance at $103.28 per barrel and a break above that would lead to a further rise to $103.96, Reuters market analyst Wang Tao said.
Investors are also watching for weekly oil inventories data from the U.S. government later on Wednesday to affirm a drop in crude stocks.
Crude inventories fell by 1.3 million barrels in the week ended Aug. 22 to 361.5 million, data from industry group the American Petroleum Institute showed on Tuesday, in line with analysts' expectations.
Elsewhere, Saudi crude exports fell in June to their lowest levels in almost three years as oil use in the country's power sector rose and local refineries processed high volumes, official data showed. (Reuters)
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