Oil prices switched between gains and losses on Thursday amid concerns about swelling U.S. inventories and the return of Iranian barrels to the market. By midmorning in Europe, Brent was up 0.3% at $30.40 a barrel on London’s ICE Futures exchange, having fallen as low as $29.73 a barrel earlier in the session. On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate futures were trading up 0.7% at $30.69 a barrel. This week, both contracts breached the key $30 a barrel level for the first time in more than a decade.
Oil advanced for a fourth day in New York, its longest run of gains in a month, on estimates that U.S. crude inventories continued their decline from record levels seen earlier this year.
Futures added as much as 1.2 percent after rising 2 percent in the previous three sessions. Inventories probably dropped by 2.25 million barrels last week, a Bloomberg survey shows before an Energy Information Administration report Wednesday. As crude stockpiles have declined from their March peak, U.S. output has kept rising and shale producers in the Permian basin will be able to make money even if the price falls to the mid-$20s, according to Scott Sheffield, chairman of Pioneer Natural Resources Co.
West Texas Intermediate for August delivery was at $43.75 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, up 37 cents, at 9:37 a.m. in London. Total volume traded was in line with the 100-day average. The contract rose 37 cents, or 0.9 percent, to $43.38 on Monday. Prices are down about 10 percent this month, the worst June performance in almost 30 years.
Brent for August settlement was 41 cents higher at $46.24 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. The contract added 29 cents, or 0.6 percent, to $45.83 on Monday. The global benchmark crude traded at a premium of $2.52 to WTI.
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