Updated March 25 at 12:26pm

Oil trades near one-week high as stockpiles slide


NEW YORK – Oil traded near the highest level in a week in New York after the American Petroleum Institute said crude inventories fell in the U.S., the world’s biggest consumer of the commodity.

Futures were little changed after rising 0.4 percent yesterday. U.S. stockpiles decreased by 985,000 barrels last week, the industry-funded API said.

An Energy Department report today is forecast to show a gain of 2.8 million barrels. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said crude prices will rise as demand growth outpaces production capacity.

“The API inventory is being accepted as a bullish factor,” said Ken Hasegawa, a commodity-derivative sales manager at Newedge Group in Tokyo who sees prices trading from $100 to $105 a barrel until at least the end of next week.

“Because of the decrease in crude and products inventories, now we can see some gains in the oil market,” he added.

Crude for June delivery was at $103.64 a barrel, up 9 cents, in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange at 2:52 p.m. Singapore time.

The contract rose 44 cents to $103.55 yesterday, the highest close since April 17. Front-month prices are 4.9 percent higher this year.

Brent oil for June settlement gained 4 cents to $118.20 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. The European benchmark contract was at a premium of $14.56, compared with $14.61 yesterday.

Oil’s advance in New York may stall as futures remain in a technical downtrend, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. On the daily chart, the top of a downward-sloping channel going back about two months is $104.38 a barrel today and represents technical resistance, where sell orders tend to be clustered.

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