A man carries a container of cooking gas in El Alto, Bolivia, Monday June 13, 2011. Bolivia's President Evo Morales and Argentina's President Cristina Kirchner will inaugurate a natural gas pipeline between Bolivia and Argentina on June 30 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, according to Bolivia's Vice President Alvaro Garcia. Gas is Bolivia's most valuable commodity and No. 1 export, responsible for $1.7 billion in income in 2010.
SIGNAPORE: Oil prices hovered above $99 a barrel Wednesday in Asia after a report showed U.S. crude inventories fell more than expected, suggesting demand may be improving.
Benchmark oil for July delivery was down 26 cents to $99.11 a barrel at midday Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained $2.07 to settle at $99.37 on Tuesday.
In London, Brent crude for July delivery was up 65 cents to $120.81 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.
The American Petroleum Institute said late Tuesday that crude inventories fell 3.0 million barrels last week while analysts surveyed by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos., had predicted a drop of 1.9 million barrels.
Inventories of gasoline rose 1.1 million barrels last week while distillates fell 426,000 barrels, the API said.
The Energy Department's Energy Information Administration reports its weekly supply data later Wednesday.
Crude has zigzagged near $100 since falling from $115 in early May as investors mull signs of a sluggish U.S. economy. Excluding car sales, U.S. retail sales rose 0.3 percent last month, better than analysts expected.
However, gasoline sales were down 1 percent last week from a year ago, according to the latest survey by MasterCard SpendingPulse.
"The report demonstrates that consumers continue to feel the pain of gasoline prices above the $3.50 per gallon mark," energy consultant The Schork Group said in a report.
In other Nymex trading in July contracts, heating oil dropped 0.1 cent to $3.12 a gallon while gasoline fell 1.3 cents at $3.05 a gallon. Natural gas futures slid 2.6 cents at $4.56 per 1,000 cubic feet.