Oil steadies at $70 after flat stocks


Oil price steadied at around $70 a barrel today after a $1 rise on unexpectedly flat petroleum stocks and a deepening deficit in heating fuel supplies.

London Brent crude for July rose 7 cents to $70.01 a barrel earlier, adding marginally to yesterday's $1.15 rally after data showed gasoline inventories stuck at unseasonally low levels with the summer driving season getting into full swing.

US crude slipped 9 cents to $66.17 a barrel after a milder gain of 91 cents the day before. US heating oil led the oil complex's gains overnight as stocks fell sharply to stand in a very deep deficit compared with a year ago, while petrol lagged the rally with a 1 per cent rise.

Petrol was steady at $2.1555 a gallon yesterday. US government data showed gasoline stocks were unchanged at 201.5 million barrels, contrary to forecasts for a sixth consecutive build, as refinery utilisation slid by 0.4 percentage points and imports dropped sharply.

Crude stocks rose just 100,000 barrels in the week to June 8th and distillate stocks rose 300,000 barrels, but heating oil inventories fell by 2.8 million barrels to 31.5 million barrels, down about a third from a year ago.