Oil halts advance as US crude inventories forecast to expand

MELBOURNE (Bloomberg) - Oil halted its advance, dropping for the first time in four days, before government data that's forecast to show U.S. crude stockpiles expanded for a fifth week.

Futures slid as much as 1 per cent in New York. Crude inventories probably rose by 3.5 million barrels through Feb. 6, according to a Bloomberg News survey before data from the Energy Information Administration on Wednesday. The United Steelworkers and Royal Dutch Shell Plc will resume negotiations on Tuesday to try and end the biggest oil-worker strike in the U.S. since 1980.

Rising U.S. supplies contributed to a global glut that drove prices almost 50 per cent lower last year. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries made the deepest cut to its forecast for supply growth from countries outside of the group in at least six years, according to a report on Monday.

West Texas Intermediate for March delivery fell as much as 50 cents to US$52.36 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange and was at US$52.56 at 11:04 a.m. Sydney time. The contract gained US$1.17 to US$52.86 on Monday after advancing 7.2 per cent last week. The volume of all futures traded was about 70 per cent below the 100-day average.

Brent for March settlement rose 54 cents, or 0.9 per cent, to US$58.34 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange on Monday. The European benchmark crude ended the session at a premium of US$5.48 to WTI.