Crude at three-month low after stockpiles data

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Oil prices touched their lowest levels for three months amid volatile trading on Wednesday after stocks of US crude oil rose more than expected last week. Inventory growth was supported by increased imports and lower demand.

Brent crude for December delivery fell more than $1 to $56.54 a barrel but recovered to $56.88 a barrel by the end of London trading, down 93 cents from Tuesday. West Texas Intermediate for De-cember delivery fell to $58.60 after the inventory data, but recovered to $58.93 by the end of trading on Nymex, down 78 cents, helped by forecasts of colder weather.

The latest weekly data from the US government showed that crude inventories rose by 4.5m barrels to 323.6m. That is 2.9m more than analysts expected and almost 13 per cent above the year-ago level.

According to the US Department of Energy, gasoline stockpiles were up 4.2m barrels at 201.1m barrels, compared with analyst forecasts of an increase of 1.3m. Distillate supplies, including diesel fuel and heating, fell 100,000 barrels to 120.8m, compared with analyst expectations of a 600,000 barrel increase. Gasoline stocks rose for the fourth straight week and distillate stocks fell for the seventh straight week.

Gasoil for November delivery rose $1.475 to $533.25 a tonne in late afternoon trading on the London IPE futures exchange, after forecasts of colder weather in Germany. Gasoil fell on Tuesday to $518 a tonne, its lowest level since July 28.

British winter gas prices reached a four-month high on worries that there might not be enough UK North Sea gas to cope with demand in cold weather. The futures for the first quarter of next year hit 76.75 pence per million British thermal units, up 3.5p from Tuesday. However, later in the day, prices settled at Tuesday’s level of 73.35p.

Platinum reached a new 25 ½ year high in London amid speculation of increased demand for platinum as the production of cars that run on diesel fuel rises. Platinum is used in catalytic converters, which help control car pollution. By the end the London trading, platinum was settling to $951 an ounce.

Palladium climbed to $235 an ounce, its highest level since October 2004. It was quoted at $226 in late trading in New York on Tuesday.

Gold prices edged higher, with industry players looking at currency markets for further direction. Gold rose $4.30 to $465.50/466.30 a troy ounce, as retail investor buying outweighed pressure from a stronger dollar.

Three-month zinc broke another eight-year record hitting $1,592.5 a tonne after the LME reported that zinc stocks were down again. Zinc later eased to $1,578 a tonne, down $2 from Tuesday.

Three-month copper was steady, down $1.50 to 3,951 a tonne. Aluminium rose to $2,016, up $5.5.

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