April 24 (Bloomberg) -- West Texas Intermediate traded near a two-week low as crude inventories rose to the highest level in 83 years in the U.S., the world’s biggest oil consumer. Brent was steady in London.
Futures for June delivery were little changed in New York after dropping 0.3 percent yesterday. Crude stockpiles expanded by 3.5 million barrels last week to 397.7 million, the Energy Information Administration said. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said his country, the world’s largest energy exporter, would defend its citizens in neighboring Ukraine as a truce faltered, while the U.S. prepares to send hundreds of troops for exercises in four nations bordering Russia.
“Ukraine will continue to be a factor in market thinking on oil,” said Ric Spooner, a chief strategist at CMC Markets in Sydney who predicts investors may buy contracts if prices drop to $100.80 a barrel. The crude stockpile level is “an uncomfortably high base to go into the driving season with,” he said.
WTI was at $101.69 a barrel, up 25 cents, in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange at 11:41 a.m. Sydney time. The contract slid 31 cents to $101.44 yesterday, the lowest close since April 7. The volume of all futures traded was about 51 percent below the 100-day average.
Brent for June settlement rose 28 cents to $109.39 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. The European benchmark crude was at a premium of $7.64 to WTI. It closed at $7.67 yesterday.
The U.S. inventory level was the highest since May 1931, according to monthly government data going back to 1920. Reports before 1976 were based on figures from the Bureau of Mines, according to the EIA, and stockpiles of Alaskan crude in transit were included starting in 1981.