LONDON (ICIS)--Crude futures opened on Wednesday in marginally negative territory, but quickly rose above the previous day’s close during early hours, supported by tensions between Russia and the West over Moscow’s occupation of Crimea.
Both benchmarks climbed further as Europe opened, but then gave back some of the gains on concerns over Chinese economic growth, with a stronger US dollar adding further downward pressure.
Both contracts rallied again on the US opening as the nation's durable goods orders for February showed a larger-than-forecast growth of 2.2%, compared to a decline of 1.3% in January.
Brent lost some ground before recovering, whereas the NYMEX continued to gain ground to be posting new highs prior to the appearance of the stock figures from the Energy Information Administration (EIA).
These showed yet another large build on overall crude stock levels, with US Gulf stock levels rising to the highest level on record, although there was yet another draw on stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub. Gasoline stocks showed a much larger draw than forecast, but this failed to give any support and prices fell sharply with Brent plunging to a new low in negative territory.
The NYMEX eventually found some support and regained some ground, but Brent continued to work lower. However, a last minute rally took the NYMEX to new highs, while Brent regained positive ground.
May Brent closed the day up 4 cents/bbl at $107.03/bbl, having traded a range between $106.48/bbl and $107.35/bbl.
May West Texas Intermediate (WTI) closed the day up $1.07/bbl at $100.26/bbl, having traded a range between $99.10/bbl and $100.39/bbl.
Additional reporting by Cuckoo James