Oil Steady as Dollar Nudges Up, But Inventories Seen Keeping Lid on Gains

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Oil prices are largely unchanged in early morning trading Thursday, retreating slightly from their previous gains as the U.S. dollar inched up.

Most traders expect oil to find resistance beyond $81 a barrel from profit-taking and concerns about global demand not keeping pace with supply. Indeed, the U.S. Department of Energy reported Wednesday that crude inventories rose to their highest levels since last August.

At 0745 ET, crude oil is down 0.1 percent at $79.18 a barrel, while light sweet crude is up 0.2 percent at $81.04, and natural gas is up 0.1 percent at $4.76 a million British thermal units.

Meanwhile, there are worries about supplies being curtailed as Singapore's navy has been warned to be on the lookout for terrorist attacks on the Malacca Strait. There is growing concern that fundamentalist Islamic groups such as al-Qaeda will attack oil tankers traveling along the strait that runs between Malaysia and Indonesia. Any potential disruption to oil supply could push crude prices.

On the corporate front, Western Refining ( WNR ) posted a loss for the fourth quarter that was less than Wall Street's estimates. The company was buoyed by higher sales volume and improvement in refining margins. Western Refining is unchanged before the bell on the NYSE at $4.69.

Meanwhile, oil explorer Canadian Natural Resouces ( CNQ ) reported fourth quarter profit tumbling 74% from a year ago due to lower natural gas volumes. Canadian Natural Resources is largely flat at $69.53 ahead of the bell on the NYSE.



The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.

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This article appears in: Investing , Commodities

Referenced Stocks: CNQ , WNR

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