Oil prices little changed despite U.S. crude stock draw
By Laila Kearney NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oil futures were mostly steady on Wednesday as price support from a larger-than-expected decline in U.S. crude inventories was countered by a lull in equities
By Laila Kearney
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oil futures were mostly steady on Wednesday as price support from a larger-than-expected decline in U.S. crude inventories was countered by a lull in equities.
Brent crude futures settled at $61.82 a barrel, shedding 32 cents, or 0.5%. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures settled at $53.76 a barrel, falling 14 cents, or 0.26%. On Tuesday, WTI had recorded its biggest daily rise since early January.
After swelling to near two-year highs, U.S. crude stocks fell 3.1 million barrels last week, compared with analysts' expectations for a draw of 1.1 million barrels, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said. Refined products also posted surprise drawdowns due to a rise in refining and crude exports, as well as a drop in crude production.
Oil prices briefly turned positive after the EIA report.
"I think, overall, it was a positive report," said Phil Flynn, analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago. "Even with the bullish report, after the big run-up yesterday, the market is hesitant to drive a lot higher."
A nearly flat day on Wall Street also limited oil prices, which often follow equities. [.N]
Equities held steady after the U.S. Federal Reserve's decision to hold interest rates steady, as expected, after concluding a two-day policy meeting on Wednesday.
"The crude oil market is correlating to that," said Bob Yawger, director of energy futures at Mizuho in New York. "I don't think it's more than a sentiment thing along those lines."
Tensions remain high in the Middle East after last week's tanker attacks, which boosted oil prices. Fears of a confrontation between Iran and the United States have mounted, with Washington blaming Tehran, which has denied any role.
Trump said he was prepared to take military action to stop Iran having a nuclear bomb but left open whether he would approve the use of force to protect Gulf oil supplies.
Oil markets, however, largely shrugged off a rocket attack on a site in southern Iraq used by foreign oil companies, including U.S. energy giant ExxonMobil.
Three people were wounded in the attack, which threatened to further escalate U.S.-Iran tensions in the region.
Members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries agreed to meet on July 1, followed by a meeting with non-OPEC allies on July 2, after weeks of wrangling over dates.
OPEC and its allies will discuss whether to extend a deal on cutting 1.2 million barrels per day of production that runs out this month.
(Additional reporting by Shadia Nasralla in London and Aaron Sheldrick in TOKYO; Editing by Marguerita Choy and Alistair Bell)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States
BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.