MTECHTIPS:-NYMEX crude falls in early Asia as investors look to U.S. rig count
Crude oil prices eased in Asia Thursday as investors looked ahead to figures on U.S. rig counts at the end of the week and the implication for domestic production levels. On the New York Mercantile Exchange, WTI crude for August delivery slid 0.76 or 1.25% to 60.25 a barrel. For the day, Texas Long Sweet futures wavered between 59.81 and 61.51 after falling sharply from near-session highs in U.S. morning trading. Still, Wednesday’s intraday high marked its strongest level in more than three weeks. Overnight, crude futures dropped considerably on Wednesday halting a two-day rally, as developments in Iranian nuclear talks and a continued decline in U.S. crude stocks weighed. On the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), Brent crude for August delivery dipped 0.96 cents or 1.49% to $63.49 a barrel. Brent futures briefly ticked above $65 a barrel before dropping significantly in the European afternoon trading session Wednesday. Crude prices plunged after the U.S. Energy Information Administration said in its Weekly Petroleum Status Report that crude inventories nationwide fell by 4.9 million barrels last week, marking the eighth consecutive report of weekly declines. The draw reduced U.S. crude stockpiles to 463.0 million barrels, a level not seen for this time of year in at least 80 years. Analysts had expected a draw in the range of 2 to 3 million barrels following the American Petroleum Institute’s weekly supply report on Tuesday evening. While the significant draw should be considered bullish for WTI crude futures, crude stockpiles typically diminish at this time of year during the peak of the summer driving season. Refineries operated at 94.0% of their operable capacity for the week ending on June 19, up slightly from 93.1% a week earlier, as disruptions from Tropical Depression Bill weighed.