Mixed analysis of U.S. fuel stocks data has allowed oil prices to remain flat, after the previous session's moderate rise. Light, sweet crude for September delivery rose by barely 2 cents to US$76.88 a barrel in Asian electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, midmorning in Singapore. September Brent crude slipped to US$75.68 a barrel on the ICE futures exchange in London.
The U.S. Energy Department's report showed crude oil stocks declined by 6.5 mln barrels last week, much more than the 690,000 barrel decline analysts had expected. The report also showed a sharp hike in refinery activity and an increase in gasoline inventories- significant as it comes at the height of the summer driving season.
This spring witnessed record high prices for U.S. gasoline, buoyed by concerns that refining industry was not producing enough gasoline to meet summer demand, mainly on account of an unusually high number of unexpected refinery outages in the Northern Hemisphere. This weeks U.S. fuel inventories report, however, indicated that the refining industry has finally recovered.