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Oil Prices Head Lower As Crude, Gasoline Inventories Rise

Oil Prices Head Lower As Crude, Gasoline Inventories Rise

NEW YORK, March 2 (Reuters) - Oil prices rose on Friday as Wall Street stocks bounced off session lows, but benchmark crude futures posted their first weekly decline in three weeks on fears USA plans to impose tariffs on steel and aluminium could squeeze economic growth and jitters about rising US crude production.

Until recently, the global oil prices of West Texas Intermediate were recorded at US$63.31 per barrel, while Brent oil was priced at $66.63 per barrel. In earlier trading, both benchmarks had been down more than a dollar.

"Then we have the volatility in the USA dollar and the implications of the tariff news to factor in", he said.

The API was said to report USA oil stockpiles rose by 933,000 bbl last week. Besides, U.S. energy firms added one oil rig last week, the fifth weekly increase in a row, bringing the total count up to 799, the highest since April 2011.

The report also showed that gasoline inventories rose by 2.483 million barrels, confounding expectations for a decline of 190,000 barrels. Seasonally, stocks tend to build in the first quarter. Oil slumped more than 1 per cent yesterday, touching two-week lows under pressure from a retreating stock market and worries about surging U.S. crude output.

Saudi Arabia last week said it hoped OPEC and its allies would be able to relax production curbs next year and create a permanent framework to stabilize oil markets after the deal expires.

The United States will overtake Russian Federation as the world's biggest oil producer by 2019, International Energy Agency (IEA) Executive Director Fatih Birol said on Tuesday.

Oil production in Venezuela may further collapse if the USA expands sanctions to include the oil industry and restricts US exports of oil products. "The United States will become the No.1 oil producer sometime very soon", he said.

Prices briefly pared losses after the U.S. Energy Information Administration released data showing crude production in December dipped to 9.95 million barrels, down 108,000 barrels per day (bpd) from November.

"Those searching for a major disruptive force in the oil market need look no further than the US", said Stephen Brennock, an analyst at PVM Oil Associates Ltd.in London.

The dollar rose after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said the central bank would stick with gradual interest rate increases.

US oil prices were mixed on Friday, after three days of declines, but any gains were limited as Asian share markets extended a selloff on Wall Street after news of planned USA tariffs on steel and aluminum raised fears of a trade war.

Powell's comments pressured Wall Street stocks.

"Demand is anything but lackluster", Phil Flynn, the senior market analyst for the PRICE Futures Group in Chicago, said in market commentary emailed to.

"You're starting to see worries creep in about the effect of the possibility we're going to impose more tariffs and then what that could do to trade and the global economy", said Gene McGillian, a market research manager at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut.

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