BANGKOK – Oil rose Thursday to nearly $94 per barrel on the heels of a big drop in U.S. oil supplies, but analysts didn't expect to see prices take off.
Benchmark oil for July delivery was up 21 cents to $93.95 per barrel at midday Bangkok time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 43 cents to close at $93.74 a barrel the day before.
The Energy Department on Wednesday said U.S. crude oil inventories shrank by 6.3 million barrels in the week ended May 31, thanks to a sharp drop in imports. Analysts expected a drop of 1 million barrels. Separately, the American Petroleum Institute said stockpiles shrank by 464,000 to 387.3 million barrels. Tighter supplies tend to push oil prices higher.
Still, oil prices were expected to stay within a tight range for now, as supplies are ample and demand remains restrained by a tepid global economic recovery.
"The market has been stuck in neutral for some time and it's hard to see how any analyst can be as so bold to see a major move on the chart forming in the near term," said Carl Larry of Oil Outlooks and Opinions in a market commentary.
In other markets, Brent crude, a benchmark for many international oil varieties, rose 5 cents to $103.09 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.
In other energy futures trading on the Nymex:
— Wholesale gasoline rose 0.5 cents at $2.828 a gallon.
— Heating oil rose 0.3 cent to $2.858 per gallon.
— Natural gas was down 0.8 cent to $3.993 per 1,000 cubic feet.