Oil prices tracking further away from the $50 mark as market-watchers wait for key data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. File photo by Monika Graff/UPI | License Photo
NEW YORK, Aug. 31 (UPI) -- A discount of any bullish sentiments in the market for crude oil helped push benchmark prices lower to start the trading day on Wednesday.
Crude oil prices started the day Tuesday in positive territory as producers in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico pulled back their operations due to a major storm system there. The situation reversed later in the day after a report on U.S. consumer confidence made it appear more likely the Federal Reserve would take action on interest rates later this year, pressuring both the value of the dollar and the price for oil.
While still a threat, meanwhile, storm systems in the southern United States appear to be moving away from Gulf installations.
Oil moved sharply lower in the hours before the start of trading in New York, but the downturn eased up somewhat by the opening bell. The price for Brent crude oil, the global benchmark, was down 1.2 percent to $48.12 per barrel in New York. The U.S. benchmark, West Texas Intermediate, lost 1percent to start the day at $45.89 per barrel.
Market watchers may still be searching for clues on what possible meaningful action members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries may take during a summit in September in Algeria. Most major producers, however, are sparring over market share, with each looking to the other to curb output.
The price for crude oil may be influenced later in the day by official supply and demand data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. A preview of the data from S&P Global Platts said crude oil inventory levels are expected to rise, while gasoline stocks move lower because of a string of U.S. refinery outages.
"A drawdown in gasoline stocks would help inventories align more closely with historical levels, but any sense of bullishness could be neutralized by falling crude demand stemming from the same refinery outages," Platts said in an emailed report.