* Saudi Arabia pumping 9.9 mln bpd, inventories full-Naimi
* Dollar strengthens, helps pressure oil
* Coming up: EIA oil data 10:30 a.m. EST Wednesday
NEW YORK, March 20 U.S. crude futures fell more
than 2 percent on Tuesday after Saudi Arabia provided details
about high production levels, saying there was no supply
shortage and that the kingdom could boost output more to meet
any supply shortage.
A stronger dollar and intraday share price weakness added
pressure as the U.S. April crude contract headed to expiration
at the end of the session.
The dollar gained across the board, bolstered by safe-haven
demand spurred by worries about a potential slowdown in China,
which dragged down both European and U.S. equities.
Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said the kingdom had met all
its customers' requests for oil, was now pumping 9.9 million
barrels per day and stood ready to raise output to full capacity
of 12.5 million bpd, if needed.
Crude futures had already felt some pressure from news that
Kuwait's ruler said during a visit to Japan that Iran has given
assurances it will not try to close the vital Strait of Hormuz
Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah said Kuwait nevertheless had
been working for "a long time" on building up oil stocks outside
the Gulf to ensure steady supplies to customers.
The flurry of market-soothing activity by Gulf OPEC states
comes as Iran faces tightening economic sanctions and an embargo
on oil exports to the European Union slated for July, as the
West tries to force Iran to submit to inspections of its
controversial nuclear program.
Kuwait and Saudi Arabia also may be eyeing the
faster-than-expected recovery of Libyan oil production after its
civil war and rising post-war production from Iraq, as consumers
look for alternative supplies to Iran, oil trading sources said.
Crude futures showed little reaction to news that U.S. crude
oil stocks fell 1.4 million barrels last week, according to a
report released after crude prices settled by the industry group
American Petroleum Institute, against expectations stockpiles
would be higher.
Gasoline stocks fell 1.4 million barrels and distillate
stocks rose 596,000 barrels.
U.S. crude oil inventories were expected to have risen last
week, by 2.4 million barrels, a Reuters survey of analysts taken
ahead of the API report showed.
Gasoline stocks were expected to be down 1.9 million
barrels, with distillate stocks pegged to be lower by 1.6
* On the New York Mercantile Exchange, expiring April crude
fell $2.48, or 2.29 percent, to settle at $105.61 a
barrel, having traded from $105.35 to $107.91.
* NYMEX May crude, now in the front-month position,
fell $2.49, or 2.29 percent, to settle at $106.07 a barrel.
* Australian iron ore miners, key beneficiaries of China's
recent industrial revolution, signaled demand growth was finally
slowing in response to Beijing's moves to cool its economy.
* France and Germany oppose a release of oil reserves,
officials from both countries said.
* Permits for U.S. homebuilding neared a 3-1/2 year high in
February, though groundbreaking activity slipped 1.1 percent,
Commerce Department data showed.
* Economic reforms in Europe will take time to take hold and
growth in crisis-hit euro-zone member states will remain weak
for a long time, U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told a
hearing of the U.S. House Financial Services Committee.
* PBF Energy's 182,000 bpd refinery in Delaware City,
Delaware, was seeing minimal impact to production after a Friday
fire in a desulfurization unit, sources said.
* Technical problems have halted exports from Iraq's new oil
export terminal for the past week after it loaded 2 million
barrels of oil on a tanker, the terminal's first ship, which
marked a major increase in export capacity.
* Rebel fighters fled the eastern Syrian city of Deir al-Zor
in the face of a fierce army assault, as Russia issued its
toughest criticism yet of President Bashar al-Assad's handling
of the year-long revolt.
* Venezuela's Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez said that U.S. and
British plan to tap strategic oil reserves was unsustainable in
the long term and would only have a limited impact on prices.
* The leader of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region delivered a
sharp denunciation of the central government that included a
veiled threat to reconsider relations with Baghdad.
* A warning about China's growth sparked selling in energy
and industrial shares, but the broad market's losses were
contained, a sign of resilience for U.S. stocks.
* Copper posted its sharpest decline in two weeks as the
dollar strengthened and concerns about the scale of China's
economic slowdown escalated, setting prices of the industrial
metal back into a familiar range.
* Gold fell amid selling prompted by lower crude and equity
markets and a spate of positive U.S. economic data that has
eroded hopes of more monetary easing by the Federal Reserve.
* U.S. Energy Information Administration oil inventory data
due at 10:30 a.m. EDT (1430 GMT) on Wednesday.
* U.S. jobless claims data due at 8:30 a.m. EDT (1230 GMT)
* U.S. Energy Information Administration natural gas storage
data due at 10:30 a.m. EDT (1430 GMT) on Thursday.
SETTLE NET PCT LOW HIGH CURRENT DAY AGO
CHNG CHNG VOL VOL
CLc1 105.61 -2.48 -2.3% 105.35 107.91 27,906 110,353
CLc2 106.07 -2.49 -2.3% 105.70 108.37 320,013 237,022
LCOc1 124.12 -1.59 -1.3% 123.20 125.44 177,992 128,753
RBc1 3.3631 -0.0047 -0.1% 3.3187 3.3683 40,968 40,371
RBc2 3.3513 -0.0105 -0.3% 3.3099 3.3570 55,737 39,652
HOc1 3.2367 -0.0246 -0.8% 3.2038 3.2524 36,584 48,046
HOc2 3.2499 -0.0260 -0.8% 3.2188 3.2667 37,330 39,855
TOTAL MARKET VOLUME OPEN INTEREST
CURRENT Mar 19 30D AVG Mar 19 NET CHNG
RBOB 178,655 138,148 140,177 388,573 1,320
HO 123,495 144,507 147,887 288,875 6,529