Oil jumps on firmer gasoline, U.S. equities; snaps 2-day rout – Reuters

NEW YORK, Sept 15 (Reuters) – Oil prices rose about 2 percent on Thursday, ending a two-day slide as prices tracked a surge in gasoline futures and higher U.S. equity markets.

Prices remained lower for the week so far. Over the previous two sessions, oil fell 6 percent, pressured by data showing large weekly builds in U.S. petroleum products and forecasts by the world’s energy watchdog and OPEC that signaled the global crude glut could persist into 2017.

Traders and investors bought to cover short positions as gasoline futures rallied 4 percent and the S&P 500 index for U.S. equities rose nearly 1 percent.

Brent crude futures were up $1.15, or 2.5 percent, to reach a session high of $47 per barrel by 12:22 p.m. EDT (1622 GMT).

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures rose 73 cents, or 1.7 percent, to $44.31.

“I think the oil market clearly overreacted to the products build data we had yesterday and that’s indicative of today’s price rebound,” said Jay Hatfield, portfolio manager at New York-based InfraCap MLP, which invests in equities of energy partnerships.

“Also, we’re undeniably in the $40-$50 a barrel range, which means when we get below $45, we are most likely to bounce up.”

Gasoline futures shot up after sources said BP Plc will cut production this weekend by at least 50 percent on the large crude distillation unit for repairs at its 413,500 barrel per day Whiting, Indiana refinery.

Also, the profit margin for processing crude into the motor fuel 1RBc1-CLc1 hit a one-month high after a leak at the Colonial Pipeline, the nation’s largest carrier system for gasoline.

U.S. equities rose after weak U.S. economic data dampened the likelihood of a Federal Reserve rate hike this month.

U.S. inventories of distillates, which include diesel and heating oil, rose 4.6 million barrels in the week to Sept. 9, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported, much more than analysts had expected and the biggest weekly build since January.

Some analysts and traders expected oil prices to come under pressure again soon, as crude supplies return from Nigeria and Libya.

Libya’s National Oil Corp said it was lifting force majeure at three ports. In Nigeria, offers for October-loading of its Qua Iboe crude have emerged even as a force majeure remains in place.

“The perception of more supply from Nigeria and Libya is trumping the physical markets,” said Scott Shelton, broker with ICAP in Durham, North Carolina. “The market could care less about strong physical markets when it sees potential for another 600,000 barrels per day of crude.” (Additional reporting by Dmitry Zhdannikov in LONDON; Editing by Marguerita Choy and Will Dunham)