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WTI Gains on Positive U.S. Economy Data, Projected Supply Drop

Aug. 26 (Bloomberg) -- West Texas Intermediate oil rose from a seven-month low as U.S. durable goods data and consumer confidence boosted economic optimism, while analysts forecast crude supplies fell.

WTI gained as much as 1.1 percent after orders for U.S. durable goods jumped in July by the most on record, while consumer confidence reached the highest level in almost seven years. A government report tomorrow will probably show U.S. crude supplies fell 2.5 million barrels last week, according to a Bloomberg survey. Russian President Vladimir Putin began talks with his Ukrainian counterpart, Petro Poroshenko, as tensions flared on the two nations’ border.

“Things are getting better for the U.S. economy,” Bill O’Grady, chief market strategist at Confluence Investment Management in St. Louis, which oversees $2.6 billion, said by phone. “It’s absolutely undeniable that the U.S. is growing and that’s going to be good for fuel demand. We’ll now see if the U.S. is strong enough to be the locomotive of global growth.”

WTI for October delivery increased 22 cents, or 0.2 percent, to $93.57 a barrel at 12:22 p.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Futures dropped 30 cents to $93.35 yesterday, the lowest close since Jan. 14. The volume of all futures traded was 27 percent below the 100-day average for this time of day.

Brent for October settlement slipped 9 cents to $102.56 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. Volumes were 29 percent lower than the 100-day average. The European benchmark crude traded at an $8.99 premium to WTI. The spread closed at $9.30 yesterday, the widest since March 14.

Durable Goods

Bookings for all U.S. goods meant to last at least three years rose 22.6 percent, the Commerce Department said today in Washington. Orders for non-military capital goods excluding aircraft fell 0.5 percent last month after a June increase of 5.4 percent that was the strongest since November.

Consumer confidence in the U.S. unexpectedly climbed in August to the highest level in almost seven years. The Conference Board’s sentiment gauge rose to 92.4, the highest since October 2007, from a revised 90.3 a month earlier, the New York-based private research group said today. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey called for a decline to 89.

Fuel Inventories

The Energy Information Administration will probably report that U.S. gasoline inventories dropped by 1.6 million barrels in the week ended Aug. 22, according to the median estimate in the Bloomberg survey of 10 analysts. Analysts were split over whether stockpiles of distillate fuel, a category that includes diesel and heating oil, declined or rose.

“The market is up on expectations supplies will stay tight,” Phil Flynn, a senior market analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago, said by phone. “The economic data is giving us some support. The durable goods number increases demand expectations.”

The American Petroleum Institute in Washington is scheduled to release separate supply data today. The industry group collects information on a voluntary basis from operators of refineries, bulk terminals and pipelines. The government requires that reports be filed with the EIA.

The most Americans in six years will travel by car over the Labor Day holiday weekend, AAA predicts. About 29.7 million people plan to drive 50 miles or more from home during the five days ending Sept. 1, up from 29.3 million last year and the most since 2008, Florida-based AAA, the biggest U.S. motoring organization, said in an Aug. 21 statement.

Holiday Demand

“Expectations about tomorrow’s inventory report are providing a boost to the market,” John Kilduff, a partner at Again Capital LLC, a New York-based hedge fund that focuses on energy, said by phone. “There should be strong crude demand from refiners making gasoline before a well-traveled Labor Day holiday.”

September gasoline futures increased 0.41 cent to $2.7538 a gallon on the Nymex. Ultra low sulfur diesel for September delivery rose 0.32 cent to $2.8401 a gallon.

Gasoline pump prices fell 0.4 cent to $3.431 a gallon nationwide yesterday, the lowest since Feb. 24, AAA said.

Putin and Poroshenko began a meeting with the European Union’s foreign-policy chief, Catherine Ashton and the presidents of Belarus and Kazakhstan at a summit in Minsk of the Customs Union, a Russian-led trade bloc. No separate bilateral meeting is planned between them, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said yesterday.

Ukraine Conflict

The conflict between Ukraine’s government and pro-Russian separatists has left more than 2,000 dead since Putin annexed Crimea in March. Ukraine said today 200 rebels and 12 Ukrainian servicemen died in the past 24 hours. Ukraine released video footage of Russian servicemen it said it captured when an armored column crossed the frontier yesterday.

“The situation in Ukraine is terrible and could easily escalate,” O’Grady said. “Oil is looking like a safe place to park your funds given the geopolitical uncertainty and the economic strength in the U.S.”

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