U.S. crude futures settled lower on Tuesday as expectations that this week’s reports on U.S. crude inventories would show another build countered supportive news of Libyan oilfields being shut by a power cut, traders said.
U.S. crude settled down 17 cents, at $49.28 a barrel, after earlier reaching $50.33. Brent futures for April were down 30 cents to $58.70 a barrel. Earlier, the Sarir and the nearby Messla oilfields in Libya were shut because of a power cut, dealing another blow to exports from the embattled OPEC member nation.
Also lending support to crude was news that Greece’s euro zone partners had approved the government’s reform plans, thereby securing an extension of their financial rescue operation. While lower Libyan output and economic stability in Europe helped support the market, rising oil inventories in the United States still highlighted a heavily oversupplied market, analysts and brokers said.