* U.S. RBOB gasoline falls 1.74 percent
* Weak demand outlook weighs on oil, supply risks supportive
* U.S. crude stocks rose last week - API
* Coming up: EIA oil data 10:30 a.m. EDT Wednesday
(Updates volume, adds API data, detail, paragraphs
By Robert Gibbons
NEW YORK, Oct 2 Oil prices fell in choppy, light
trading on Tuesday, pressured by the outlook for weak economic
growth and petroleum demand, even as the risk of potential crude
supply disruptions limited losses.
U.S. RBOB gasoline futures fell 1.74 percent, adding
pressure on crude futures.
"Profit taking out of gasoline had a significant influence
on market tone today," said Timothy Evans, energy analyst at
Citi Futures Perspective in New York.
"We had some early support from a positive S&P 500 and a
little bit of U.S. dollar weakness early in the session," Evans
Global economic growth has slowed this year, curbing fuel
demand growth in Asia, Europe and the United States. Investors
remain wary, however, of unplanned supply disruptions,
especially in the Middle East, that could force prices higher.
The euro strengthened against the dollar a second straight
session on growing expectations the euro zone's fourth-largest
economy, Spain, will seek a bailout. The dollar index
U.S. stocks ended mixed amid uncertainty about whether Spain
will soon ask the euro zone for support and worries that
third-quarter U.S. earnings will disappoint.
Investors remained cautious ahead of this week's U.S.
employment gauges. Reports due include payroll processor ADP's
measure of private sector hiring, followed by government data on
U.S. initial jobless claims and, on Friday, the closely watched
September nonfarm payrolls.
Brent November crude fell 62 cents to settle at
$111.57 a barrel, trading either side and then closing below the
50-day moving average of $112.06 and the 200-day moving average
of $112.09, technical levels that are closely watched by
U.S. November crude pulled back 59 cents to settle at
$91.89 a barrel, after reaching $92.94.
Total Brent trading volume was 25 percent below its 30-day
average, while U.S. crude turnover was 36 percent below the
U.S. RBOB gasoline futures fell 1.74 percent, more
than 5 cents, to settle at $2.8692 a gallon, finishing below the
100-day moving average of $2.8760.
U.S. heating oil fell just over a penny, less than
0.5 percent, to settle at $3.1255 a gallon.
U.S. retail gasoline demand fell over the past two weeks and
fell versus the year-ago period, according to a report from
MasterCard released on Tuesday.
Crude oil prices drew support on Monday from data showing
U.S. manufacturing unexpectedly grew last month for the first
time since May. Offsetting the U.S. data were reports showing
that euro zone factories suffered their worst quarter since
early 2009 and that China lost steam .
"Economic data is bearish for oil and the immediate risk for
prices is to the downside," said Tamas Varga, an oil analyst at
brokers PVM Oil Associates in London.
"But geopolitics is supporting the market. It may be very
unlikely, but investors are still worried there could be a war
in the Middle East. And, as long as stories about Iranian
nuclear operations keep coming, those worries are not going to
Delayed October loadings for North Sea Forties crude oil
cargoes because of lower-than-expected output have also limited
the downside for crude futures prices.
GEOPOLITICAL WILD CARDS
The dispute between the West and Iran over Tehran's nuclear
program continues to simmer after last week's posturing speeches
by heads of state at the United Nations General Assembly.
Analysts and traders have also focused on OPEC-member
Venezuela ahead of Sunday's election as President Hugo Chavez
seeks a new six-year term.
Iran has coped with Western economic sanctions, and Iran's
central bank has supplied enough hard currency to finance
imports even with sanctions cutting oil earnings, President
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Tuesday.
Ahmadinejad was speaking after the Iranian rial plunged to a
record low against the U.S. dollar earlier in the day.
Iran's exports remain curbed by a European Union (EU) embargo
entering its fourth month. Output in neighboring Iraq is likely
to hit 3.4 million barrels per day (bpd) while exports are
expected to average 2.9 million bpd in 2013, the top energy
advisor to the Iraqi prime minister said on Tuesday.
U.S. OIL INVENTORIES
U.S. crude oil inventories rose 462,000 barrels last week,
the industry group American Petroleum Institute said on Tuesday,
less than expected.
Gasoline stocks in the United States fell 59,000 barrels and
distillate stockpiles fell 321,000 barrels, according to the API
Ahead of the API report, U.S. crude stocks had been forecast
to have risen 1.5 million barrels last week, a Reuters poll of
Gasoline stockpiles were expected to be down 600,000 barrels
and distillate stockpiles were seen lower by 400,000 barrels.
The weekly report from the U.S. Energy Information
Administration will follow on Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. EDT (1430
(Additional reporting by Christopher Johnson and Alice
Baghdjian in London, Luke Pachymuthu and Manolo Serapio Jr in
Singapore and Adam Kerlin in New York. Editing by Jim Marshall,
Alden Bentley and Bob Burgdorfer)