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OIL FUTURES : Crude Hits Fresh 6-Month Low On Oversupply Worries

05/16/2012 | 10:02am US/Eastern

--Lowest intraday Nymex crude price since Nov. 3

--API says U.S. crude stocks rose 6.6 million barrels in week

--Analysts expected 1.4 million barrels crude rise; await EIA data

   By David Bird 
   Of  

Crude oil futures prices were down for the 10th of 11 sessions early Wednesday, after hitting a fresh six-month low below $92 on a worries over increasingly bloated U.S. inventories.

Traders are awaiting the Energy Information Administration's oil data, due at 10:30 a.m. EDT, for confirmation or contradiction of a huge 6.6-million barrel rise in U.S. crude stocks, as reported late Tuesday by the American Petroleum Institute, a trade group.

Analysts surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires expect the EIA data to show crude stocks rose by 1.4 million barrels last week. Crude stocks in the U.S., the world's biggest oil consumer, already are at 22-year highs.

If EIA data match the API figures, the year-on-year surplus in U.S. crude stocks would grow to 4.3%, the biggest surplus since January 2011.

The worries over rising inventories and stuttering economic indicators in the U.S. come as concerns over a potential Greek pull out from the euro have rattled global financial markets. Oil markets have been battered by worries over a potential contagion effect from the Greece crisis.

Heading into Wednesday's trading front-month crude oil futures prices on the New York Mercantile Exchange have fallen by 11.5%, or $12.18 a barrel, with declines in nine of the past 10 sessions.

Crude dropped to a low of $91.81 a barrel overnight, the lowest intraday price since Nov. 3, after the API report.

Nymex June crude recently traded at $92.94 a barrel, down $1.03.

ICE June North Sea Brent crude, which expires at the settlement, was off 54 cents, at $111.70 a barrel.

"Clearly Europe has put the market on the defensive and you combine that with the inventory situation," said Peter Donovan, a vice president at Vantage Trading.

While the API crude oil inventory figures was bearish, the data for petroleum products were somewhat support, but overlooked, traders said. API said gasoline stocks fell by 2.6 million barrels, far more than the 300,000-barrel drop which analysts expect, and distillates (diesel/heating oil) stocks fell 1.6 million barrels, more than the 200,000-barrel decline expected.

"It's tough to fight the momentum," Donovan said.

When crude prices last visited $92 a barrel, they were on a rapid ascent from levels around $85 a barrel, traders said. That means a further push below session lows could trigger a fall to near that level, they said.

Reformulated gasoline blendstock futures for June delivery were 0.97 cent lower, at $2.9344 a gallon. Heading into Wednesday, prices were down 8 cents in the past four days and have fallen 18 cents, with losses in nine of 11 trading days, so far this month, to the lowest level since Feb. 7.

June heating oil traded 0.22 cent lower, at $2.9303 a gallon.

-By David Bird, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2141; david.bird@dowjones.com

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