Oil prices were little changed in early Asian trade on Thursday as an unexpected build in U.S. gasoline inventories offset a higher than forecast draw in U.S. crude inventories, while Brent was supported by buoyant manufacturing figures from Europe.
Brent crude for August delivery rose 10 cents to $63.59 a barrel by 0130 GMT, after settling down 96 cents, or 1.5 percent, in the previous session.
U.S. crude for August delivery shed 9 cents to $60.18 a barrel, after ending the previous session down 74 cents, or 1.2 percent.
“The market is disappointed with last night’s numbers,” said Mike McCarthy, chief market strategist at Sydney’s CMC Markets.
“The spread (between Brent and U.S. crude) had narrowed so it’s not surprising it’s diverging,” McCarthy said.
The spread between Brent and West Texas Intermediate had narrowed towards $3 in trading on Wednesday but was widening in early trade on Thursday.
He said Brent was being supported by strong data from the Euro zone earlier this week which showed private businesses expanded at their fastest pace in four years this month.
But U.S. crude was down due to the larger than expected build in gasoline inventories after the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration released oil stocks data on Wednesday.
The build in gasoline stocks came despite U.S. gasoline demand in the week to June 19 being at highest level for the period since 1991.
U.S. gasoline stocks climbed 680,000 barrels to 218.49 million in the week to June 19, compared with a Reuters poll which expected a 304,000-barrel drop, EIA data showed.
That was despite a larger than expected fall in U.S. crude inventories, which fell for the eighth straight week, by 4.9 million barrels to 462.99 million, in the week ending June 19, compared with analyst expectations of a 2.1 million barrel draw, the EIA said.