West Texas Intermediate headed for a weekly decline as U.S. refineries reduced operating rates at the end of the peak season for gasoline demand in the world’s biggest oil consumer. Brent was steady in London.
Futures were little changed in New York and poised for a 1.6 percent weekly drop. Refineries operated at 93.3 percent of their capacity last week, down 0.2 percentage points, according to the Energy Information Administration. Processing plants schedule maintenance during September and October as a transition to making winter-grade fuels. Libyan crude output was steady at 725,000 barrels a day, National Oil Corp. said.
“Lower demand is certainly the base case scenario, but it’s unlikely the sellers will get too aggressive,” Michael McCarthy, a chief strategist at CMC Markets in Sydney, said by phone. “Firstly, we start to move into the hurricane season in the U.S., and secondly, peak demand for oil occurs over the northern hemisphere winter. We could see softness, but I’d be surprised if we see any aggressive sell down.”