Crude rises in front of number

West Texas Intermediate crude traded near the highest price in three days before supply data that will signal the strength of fuel demand in the U.S., the world’s biggest oil consumer. Brent in London was steady.

Futures were little changed in New York after snapping a five-day losing streak yesterday. Gasoline (NYMEX:RBQ14) stockpiles probably fell for the first time since June last week, according to a Bloomberg News survey before a government report tomorrow. Kurdish fighters in Iraq retook northern border towns seized by militants from Islamic State, a breakaway al-Qaeda group, the Kurdistan Democratic Party said on its website.

“The market seems to have marked the bottom of its recent sharp downward correction,” Christopher Bellew, senior broker at Jefferies Bache Ltd. in London, said by e-mail. “Prices are holding as geopolitical tension offers support.”

WTI (NYMEX:CLQ14) for September delivery was at $98.35 a barrel, up 6 cents at 1:07 p.m. London time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained 0.4 to $98.29 yesterday, the highest close since July 30. The volume of all futures traded was about 44 below the 100-day average. Prices are little changed this year.

Brent (NYMEX:SCQ14) for September settlement slipped 2 cents to $105.39 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. The European benchmark crude was at a premium of $7.05 to WTI. It closed at $7.12 yesterday.

Fuel Supplies

WTI declined 4.1 last week amid signs of weaker U.S. fuel demand. Gasoline supplies probably fell by 300,000 barrels to 217.9 million during the week ended Aug. 1, according to the median estimate of nine analysts surveyed by Bloomberg before the Energy Information Administration report. The country’s peak driving season typically runs from the end of May to Labor Day on Sept. 1.

U.S. crude inventories shrank by 1.5 million barrels to 365.9 million, the survey shows. Distillate stockpiles, a category that includes heating oil and diesel, expanded by 700,000 barrels.

The American Petroleum Institute is scheduled to release separate supply data today. The industry-funded group in Washington collects data on a voluntary basis from operators of refineries, bulk terminals and pipelines. The government requires that reports be filed with the EIA.

Mideast Unrest

Kurdish fighters recaptured Sinjar and Rabia’ah near the Syrian border after heavy fighting yesterday, according to the Kurdistan Democratic Party. At least 50 Islamic State militants were killed as security forces battled to regain the village of Wana, south of Mosul dam.

The conflict has spared supply from Iraq’s south, home to more than three-quarters of its crude output. The nation is the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ second-largest producer, pumping 3 million barrels a day in July.

In Libya, turmoil could have “negative ramifications on a global scale” if the country continues to spiral out of control, Abu Bakr Bueira, a senior lawmaker, told the country’s newly elected parliament yesterday. The nation is the smallest producer in OPEC and holds Africa’s biggest oil reserves.

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