SINGAPORE: Oil prices rose in Asian trade Thursday, boosted by stronger US demand but caution over a slowing Chinese economy limited gains, analysts said.
New York’s main contract, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) light sweet crude for delivery in July, added 30 cents to $94.04 a barrel in the afternoon and Brent North Sea crude for July delivery gained 17 cents to $103.21.
“Prices have bounced up in reaction to a drop in US inventories,” Kelly Teoh, market strategist at IG Markets in Singapore, told AFP.
“While the market has been very data-sensitive, the overall tone for commodities still remains soft.”
The US Department of Energy on Wednesday said stockpiles in the United States plunged 6.3 million barrels in the week ended May 31, much more than analysts expected, with the average estimate pegged at a 400,000 drop.
A decline in stockpiles supports crude prices as it suggests a pick-up in demand, which traditionally rises during the US summer driving season when Americans take to the roads for their holidays.
Michael McCarthy, a chief market strategist at CMC Markets in Sydney, said however that dealers remained cautious ahead of fresh Chinese data.
He told AFP that “oil futures will be weighed if there is a slowing trend” in China’s trade data for May, which will be released on Friday.
The National Bureau of Statistics in Beijing will unveil figures for industrial production, retail sales and inflation on Saturday.
Developments in China are closely watched as it is the world’s second biggest economy and largest energy consumer.
The International Monetary Fund recently cut its 2013 growth forecast for the country to 7.75 percent from an earlier projection of 8.0 percent.