LONDON (Reuters) - Brent crude rose to above $109.50 a barrel on Wednesday, supported by a weaker dollar, as the U.S. East Coast began to pick itself up after storm Sandy, but gains were capped by demand worries in the world’s largest oil consumer.
Most refineries emerged unscathed from the storm, a bright spot in the demand picture, though roads in the region remained shut as New York City and the eastern part of the United States were left crippled by flooding and power outages.
Oil prices also drew support from European shares and the euro, which rose on Wednesday as investors looked ahead to key economic data and waited for Wall Street to re-open after a two-day closure.
Brent crude for December delivery was up 60 cents at $109.68 by 1045 GMT. U.S. crude for December rose 77 cents to $86.45.
“We are slightly firmer...and have had a bit of dollar weakness across the board, and that’s been helping commodities in general,” said Jack Pollard, research analyst at Sucden Financial.
Millions across the U.S. Northeast stricken by massive storm Sandy will attempt to resume their normal lives as companies, markets and airports reopen despite grim projections of power and mass transit outages around New York for several more days.
The region’s biggest refinery, in Philadelphia, and several others, were ramping up operations on Tuesday after escaping damage from the storm.
But an outage at the region’s second-largest refinery, Phillips 66’s (PSX.N) 238,000 barrel-per-day plant in Bayway, New Jersey, nicknamed the “gasoline machine” for its key role in supplying motor fuel to the New York City area, and a fire at BP Plc’s (BP.L) residual hydrotreater in Texas City supported gasoline prices.
November gasoline futures, which expire later on Wednesday, were up more than 3 percent at $2.8299 a gallon.
Power glitches were also reported at two other plants and a key New Jersey terminal hub, slowing the recovery in fuel supplies.
The CME (CME.O) is set to resume floor trading of oil, natural gas and other commodities during normal hours on Wednesday at the NYMEX world headquarters in New York. But the U.S. Energy Department has delayed its weekly petroleum inventory report by a day to Thursday.
U.S. crude inventories rose by 2.1 million barrels last week, slightly more than expected, while distillate inventories dropped sharply even as refinery operations jumped, data from the American Petroleum Institute showed. Analysts had expected crude stockpiles to rise by 1.5 million barrels. <API/S> <EIA/S>
Additional reporting by Florence Tan; Editing by William Hardy