(photo credit: JPOST STAFF)
SINGAPORE - Oil prices were steady on Thursday, supported by falling crude output in Libya and declining gasoline stocks in the United States, although bloated US crude inventories are still weighing on markets.
Prices for front-month Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil, were at $52.42 per barrel at 12:40 AM GMT, unchanged from their last close.
In the United States, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 5 cents at $49.57 a barrel.
ANZ said on Thursday that prices were supported by Libyan oil output falling to about 500,000 barrels per day (bpd) due to the shutdown of pipelines from its biggest field.
And while a rise in US crude inventories weighed on markets, ANZ said that "the market got excited" about a drawdown in gasoline stockpiles.
"The big falls in gasoline inventories, coming near the end of the refinery maintenance season, suggest crude oil inventories are on the cusp of declining," it said.
US crude inventories rose 867,000 barrels in the week ending March 24, compared with analyst expectations for an increase of 1.4 million barrels. Total inventories were at a record of nearly 534 million barrels, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Wednesday.
Gasoline stocks fell 3.7 million barrels, compared with expectations for a 1.9-million barrel drop.