MTECHTIPS:-WTI crude futures fall below $60, ahead of Friday’s U.S. Rig Count
Crude futures fell slightly on Thursday amid a stable dollar, as energy traders await the release of weekly U.S. rig counts at week’s end for further indications of dwindling supply. On the New York Mercantile Exchange, WTI crude for August delivery fell 0.54 or 0.90% to 59.73 a barrel, closing under $60 for the first time in four sessions. Texas Long Sweet futures traded in a tight range between 59.44 and 60.46. On the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), brent crude for August delivery dipped 0.24 or 0.38% to 63.25 a barrel, moving lower for the second straight day. Brent futures wavered between 62.74 and 63.95 on the session. When Baker Hughes releases its weekly U.S. Rig Count on Friday, the oil services firm could report a draw in oil rigs for the 29th consecutive week. Last week, Baker Hughes said the U.S. oil rigs fell by four to 631 for the week ending June 19, its lowest level since August, 2010. The pace of decline, though, continued to slow, as last week’s draw represented the smallest reduction since December. Industry observers have placed less emphasis on U.S. rig counts in comparison with recent years, as U.S. shale producers continue to remove inefficient rigs while maintaining output. A controversial decision by Opec in November to keep its supply ceiling above 30 million barrels per day triggered an arms race of sorts with the U.S. for global market share. Earlier this week, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) 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 reducedU.S. crude stockpiles to 463.0 million barrels, a level not seen for this time of year in at least 80 years. 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.