Oil prices inched higher to near $102 a barrel Thursday in Asia amid a weaker dollar and mixed signs about US crude demand heading into the summer driving season.
Benchmark oil for July delivery rose 29 cents to $101.61 a barrel at midday Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
The contract added $1.73 to settle at $101.32 on Wednesday.
In other Nymex trading in June contracts, heating oil rose 1 cent to $2.99 a gallon and gasoline added 2.3 cents to $3.04 a gallon. Natural gas futures gained 1 cent to $4.43 per 1,000 cubic feet. Analysts said the oil remained in positive territory after reports said crude processing at refineries in the US jumped nearly 500,000 barrels a day in the week ended May 20. They also said the oil was also tracking gains in US equities markets. The Energy Department report Wednesday showed inventories of diesel and heating oil fell in the world’s biggest crude-consuming nation. Futures advanced as much as 0.6% after the Energy Department said yesterday that US distillate supplies declined 2.04 million barrels to 141.1 million last week, the lowest since April 2009. On Wednesday, benchmark crude for July delivery added $1.73 to settle at $101.32 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. In London, Brent crude rose $2.40 to settle at $114.93 per barrel on the ICE Futures exchange. The four-week average oil demand in the US dropped 5.3%, while gasoline demand fell 2.1%. Demand for diesel fuel and jet fuel also declined.