BANGKOK – Oil prices rose for a fifth straight trading session Wednesday despite expectations a report on weekly U.S. crude stocks will show ample inventories.
Benchmark oil for April delivery was up 19 cents to $92.73 per barrel at midday Bangkok time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contact rose 48 cents to finish at $92.54 per barrel on the Nymex on Tuesday.
The Energy Information Administration's supply report will be out later Wednesday. Last week it said the nation's supply of crude was 10.3 percent above year-earlier levels. And U.S. oil production, at more than 7 million barrels a day, is at the highest level since the late 1990s.
Data for the week ending March 8 is expected to show an increase of 2.3 million barrels in crude oil stocks and a drawdown of 1.5 million barrels in gasoline stocks, according to a survey of analysts by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos.
Also on Wednesday, the U.S. government releases its latest monthly tally for retail sales. Analysts estimate that retail sales rose slightly in February.
"Housing is the one sector of the economy that seems to be faring well and one would have expected to see this reflected in the retail sales data," analysts at DBS Bank Ltd. in Singapore said in an email commentary.
Brent crude, used to price many kinds of oil imported by U.S. refineries, was down 19 cents to $109.04 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.
In other energy futures trading on the Nymex:
— Wholesale gasoline rose 1.3 cents to $3.151 a gallon.
— Heating oil fell 0.1 cent to $3.041 a gallon.
— Natural gas dropped 0.5 cent to $3.65 per 1,000 cubic feet.