Oil halts slide near $45 as US crude stockpiles seen declining

Oil held near $45 a barrel as weekly industry data showed falling crude stockpiles eased a glut. Futures were little changed in New York after dropping 1.3 percent Tuesday. Inventories fell by 2.3 million barrels last week, the American Petroleum Institute was said to report. While government data Wednesday is forecast to show supplies fell for a ninth week, stockpiles will still be more than 100 million barrels above the five-year seasonal average. Oil has fluctuated between about $44 and $52 a barrel since early June after almost doubling from a 12-year low in February as supply disruptions and falling U.S. output trim a global surplus. Prices should rebound to about $60 a barrel next year and accelerate the return of drilling rigs, Pioneer Natural Resources Chief Executive Officer Scott Sheffield said in Washington. “Stockpiles are coming down as a consequence of seasonal demand, but starting from a higher base,” Ric Spooner, a chief analyst at CMC Markets in Sydney, said by phone. “Oil has been trading within a range in a sideways, status quo scenario. In the short-term, there is the risk of seeing lower prices in the absence of any catalysts to turn things around.” West Texas Intermediate for August delivery, which expires Wednesday, was up 3 cents at $44.68 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices fell 59 cents to $44.65 on Tuesday. The more-active September future was 8 cents higher at $45.53 at 8:04 a.m. Hong Kong time. Total volume traded was about 75 percent below the 100-day average. Brent for September settlement was at $46.76 a barrel, up 10 cents, on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. The contract closed 30 cents, or 0.6 percent, lower at $46.66 a barrel on Tuesday. The global benchmark traded at a premium of $1.24 to WTI for September. By Ben Sharples/Bloomberg with assistance from Stephen Stapczynski.

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