Oil gained after the International Energy Agency boosted its forecast for global demand growth this year, easing concerns about consumption.

West Texas Intermediate futures settled 2.6 per cent higher to trade above US$94 a barrel while Brent again neared $100. The IEA lifted its consumption estimate by 380,000 barrels a day, saying soaring natural gas prices and heat waves are prompting manufacturers and power generators to switch their fuel to oil.

Buffeted by bullish and bearish headlines, crude has been largely rangebound near a six-month low. A brief halt of Russian flows to some parts of Europe and weaker-than-expected U.S. inflation data pushed prices higher. The subsequent resumption of Russian supply -- as well as renewed attempts to resurrect the Iranian nuclear deal -- have since weighed on the market.

“It looks like demand worries might be a bit overdone, and extremely high gas prices will support oil demand during winter with gas-to-oil switching,” said Helge Andre Martinsen, a senior oil analyst at DNB Bank ASA.

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In the U.S., average retail pump prices dropped below $4 a gallon after peaking at a record above $5 in mid-June, according to data from auto club AAA. The decline may be brief. Retail gasoline may surge back above $5 and Brent oil futures could go as high as $130, Damien Courvalin, Goldman’s head of energy research, said in a Bloomberg Television interview.


  • WTI for September delivery closed +2.6% to $94.34 a barrel in New York
  • Brent for October settlement closed +2.3% to $99.60

Still, there are signs of weakness in the futures market. It’s most evident in a narrowing of closely watched time differentials. WTI’s prompt spread -- the gap between its two nearest contracts -- has shrunk to about 87 cents a barrel in backwardation, down from $2.88 a month ago. The comparable measure for global benchmark Brent was $1.34, down by about two-thirds during the same period.