Brent crude and WTI: Oil shrugs off earlier losses to head towards $40

 
Jessica Morris
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An Iranian oil tanker is seen floating o
Iranian oil exports to Asia jumped nearly a quarter from a year ago (Source: Getty)

Oil prices reversed earlier losses to veer higher today, inching towards $40 per barrel in late afternoon trading.

Brent crude, the global benchmark, swelled 0.8 per cent to $39.56 per barrel.

However, West Texas Intermediate crude, the US benchmark, edged down 0.2 per cent to $38.26.

Read more: What $20 per barrel oil would mean for the global economy

The gains came despite fresh concerns about the global oversupply of oil.

Data released earlier today showed Iranian oil exports to Asia jumped nearly a quarter from a year ago to a two-year high in February.

Exports to Iran's top four buyers - China, India, Japan and South Korea - came in at 1.28m barrels per day in February, up 24.6 per cent from a year ago.

Nation

February 2016

February 2015

Percentage change

China

537,969 532,355 1.1
India

215,800

102,200 111.1
Japan

239,088

244,055 -2.0
Korea

282,207

144,393 95.4

Total

1,275,064

1,023,003 24.6

(Source: Reuters)

That was the highest volume taken by Tehran's four biggest oil clients since they bought 1.37m barrels per day in February 2014.

Elsewhere, separate data showed US crude inventories continued to build this month.

Read more: Hedge funds think oil prices are going in this direction

Stockpiles rising by 2.3m barrels to 534.8m in the week to March 25, data from the US Energy Information Administration showed.

"This commodity is heavily bearish and the incessant build up in crude stock piles continues to haunt investor attraction consequently sabotaging any recovery in prices," Lukman Otunuga, research analyst at FXTM, said in a note.

"It seems that the overextended relief rally which took prices to the highs of $42.45 may have come to an abrupt end."

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