Crude prices may rise next week as gasoline gains amid declining inventories, a Bloomberg News survey showed.
Fourteen of 25 analysts, or 56 percent, forecast oil will increase through March 9. Eight respondents, or 32 percent, predicted prices will fall and three estimated there will be little change. Last week, 43 percent of surveyed analysts expected an increase.
U.S. gasoline inventories fell 1.6 million barrels to 229.9 million in the seven days ended Feb. 24, declining for a second week, the Energy Department reported on Feb. 29. Gasoline futures have surged 25 percent this year in New York, compared with a 10 percent gain in oil.
“You are moving into the gasoline inventory liquidation season, and that tends to be a period when gasoline prices rise,” said Bill O’Grady, chief market strategist at Confluence Investment Management in St. Louis. “Rising gasoline prices will support crude.”
U.S. gasoline demand advanced 2.5 percent in the week ended Feb. 24 from the prior seven days to 8.49 million barrels a day, according to MasterCard Inc. (MA)’s SpendingPulse report. Total petroleum consumption rose 0.1 percent in the same week to 18.3 million barrels a day, the highest level in five weeks, according to the Energy Department.
Crude for April delivery has fallen 91 cents, or 0.8 percent, to $108.86 a barrel this week on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Futures are up 6.5 percent from a year ago.
Gasoline futures for April delivery gained 16.89 cents, or 5.4 percent to $3.3217 a gallon this week on the Nymex.
The oil survey has correctly predicted the direction of futures 48 percent of the time since its start in April 2004.
Bloomberg’s survey of oil analysts and traders, conducted each Thursday, asks for an assessment of whether crude oil futures are likely to rise, fall or remain neutral in the coming week. The results were: RISE NEUTRAL FALL 14 3 8
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