Oil fluctuated as U.S. inventories gained more than expected last week and the economy unexpectedly shrank in the fourth quarter.
Prices were steady after the Energy Information Administration reported stockpiles increased 5.95 million barrels. Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg had expected a gain of 2.5 million. Gross domestic product dropped at a 0.1 percent annual rate, the Commerce Department reported, weaker than any forecast in a Bloomberg survey of analysts.
“We are well-supplied and fundamentally oil should be a lot lower,” said Tariq Zahir, a New York-based commodity fund manager at Tyche Capital Advisors. “The GDP number is a big surprise.”
West Texas Intermediate for March rose 7 cents to $97.64 a barrel at 10:35 a.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The volume of all futures traded was 15 percent above the 100-day average. The price was $97.62 before the report.
Brent for March settlement rose 5 cents to $114.41 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. The volume of all futures traded was 7 percent above the 100-day average.
Oil inventories increased for a second week, to 369.1 million in the week ended Jan. 25, the EIA, the Energy Department’s statistics arm, reported. Gasoline stockpiles fell 956,000 barrels to 232.3 million. Distillate fuels, including heating oil and diesel, dropped 2.32 million to 130.6 million.
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