[ferro-alloys.com]Crude oil futures were largely stable during mid-morning trade in Asia Friday amid mixed US inventory data and as Iranian supply issues continued to dominate market attention.
At 10:20 am Singapore time (0220 GMT), ICE November Brent crude futures were up 3 cents/b (0.04%) from Thursday's settle at $76.53/b, while the NYMEX October light sweet crude contract was up 6 cents/b (0.09%) at $67.83/b.
US Energy Information Administration data released Thursday showed US crude inventories fell 4.3 million barrels in the week ended August 31, exceeding the expectations of analysts surveyed Tuesday by S&P Global Platts of a 2.5 million-barrel draw.
However the data on US refined products was bearish, capping price gains, analysts said Friday. US distillate stocks jumped a surprise 3.12 million barrels to 133.12 million barrels in the week ended August 31, EIA data showed; analysts had expected little change from the week before.
US gasoline stocks surprised as well, with EIA data showing a 1.85 million-barrel build; analyst had expected a 1.5 million-barrel draw.
"Despite a bigger-than-expected fall in crude oil inventories in the US," prices moved lower on demand-related concerns, ANZ analysts said in a note Friday, referring to the rises in US refined products.
Market focus remained on the loss of Iranian crude barrels amid looming US sanctions and increasing supply from OPEC.
OPEC's crude production in August hit a 10-month-high 32.89 million b/d, with surging output in Iraq and Libya more than offsetting Iran's reduction as the sanctions-hit country struggled to keep customers, according to the latest Platts survey.
Iranian production has already begun falling in advance of the sanctions, hitting a more than two-year low at 3.6 million b/d in August, according to the survey. Its oil exports in August plunged 17% from July as key buyers China and India significantly cut their purchases, data from Platts trade flow software cFlow showed.
The US has committed to working with India on reducing its Iranian oil imports ahead of sanctions that are scheduled to snap back in November, but Washington continues to aim for zeroing out Tehran's exports, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday.
"We will consider waivers where appropriate, but ... it is our expectation that the purchases of Iranian crude oil will go to zero from every country, or sanctions will be imposed," Pompeo said after meeting with India's foreign and defense ministers in New Delhi.