US crude ekes out slim gain after US data, pipeline hopes

Construction workers specializing in pipe-laying work on a section of pipeline outside Watford City, N.D.
Getty Images

Brent oil futures fell on Thursday as traders anticipated an increase in Libyan oil supply and on expectations that the U.S. Federal Reserve may soon unwind its stimulus program, which has supported commodity prices.

U.S. oil rose moderately on expectations for increased demand as new pipeline projects promise to relieve a pooling glut of oil at the domestic storage hub, though the demand picture remained unclear. The diverging prices drove the spread between the two down by more than $1 from the previous session's close.

Brent crude oil fell 70 cents to trade under $109 a barrel. U.S. crude futures for January delivery settled up 6 cents at $97.50 after a mixed bag of U.S. retail and jobless data.

Changes in pipeline flows are expected to send oil from Cushing, Oklahoma, the delivery point for the U.S. oil futures contract, to U.S. Gulf Coast refiners, but it remains unclear how much of that refined oil is making it to global markets.

Libya's Prime Minister Ali Zeidan said on Wednesday that it expected eastern tribes to reopen three oil ports over the weekend, including two of the country's largest which have been shut since end July.

For more information on commodities prices, please click here.