Oil Adds To Losses As Investors Eye Outlook

Oil futures extended losses in electronic trading Thursday, as Asian investors added to selling seen in the U.S session after a downbeat forecast for global crude demand.

Crude oil for delivery in April  fell 22 cents, or 0.2%, to $92.30 a barrel during East Asian trading hours, accelerating from a 2-cent slip in Wednesday’s New York Mercantile Exchange session.

Likewise, London-traded Brent crude for April delivery  lost 18 cents, or 0.2%, to trade at $108.34 a barrel, adding to the contract’s $1.13 tumble Wednesday, which further narrowed the spread with Nymex crude.

The losses Wednesday and Thursday followed a monthly report from the International Energy Agency, which further lowered its forecast for global oil demand while increasing its projection for supply growth.

However, Deutsche Bank analysts described the IEA’s demand forecast as below consensus, contrasting it with a brighter projection by the U.S. Energy Information Agency, “reflecting their more optimistic view on economic growth for this year, notably for China.”

For its part, Deutsche Bank leaned more toward the EIA view. “Our economics research team’s upbeat assessments for growth this year inform our more positive outlook for global oil-demand growth,” they said, adding that they had revised their forecast for U.S. economic growth in 2013 to 2.3%, up from 1.7% previously.

On the other hand, Citi Futures — which has been bearish on oil futures — said their “blend” of forecasts from the IEA, EIA and the Organization of the Petroleum-Exporting Countries (OPEC) showed a global oil surplus for the first half of the year, although the last six months of 2013 “looks like a closer balance.”

Wednesday’s losses for crude also coincided with the U.S. dollar’s climb to a seven-month high.

Gains for the U.S. currency can often depress crude prices, which are quoted in dollars, as a rising greenback makes the commodity more expensive for holders of euros, yen and other rival units.

But the greenback spared the oil market Thursday, as the ICE dollar index   traded at 82.921, little changed from 82.936 late Wednesday in North America.

Other energy futures traded mostly lower Thursday, as April gasoline  fell 3 cents, or 0.8%, to $3.12 a gallon, while April heating oil  edged 1 cent lower, a loss of 0.3%, to $2.92 a gallon.

However, April natural gas  was about a penny higher at 3.69 per million British thermal units.