Crude Oil Little Changed

Oil was little changed near its lowest in almost 22 months before a report forecast to show that U.S. crude inventories increased for an eighth week as a recession erodes demand worldwide.

Crude oil stockpiles probably climbed 1 million barrels in the week ended Nov. 14 from 311.9 million the week before, according to a Bloomberg survey before the Energy Department's report tomorrow. Oil also declined as the dollar strengthened against the euro, undermining the appeal of commodities as a currency hedge.

Crude oil for December delivery dropped as much as 82 cents, or 1.5 percent, to $54.13 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. That's the lowest since Jan. 30, 2007. It traded for $55.06 at 1:22 p.m. London time.

It may be too early for OPEC, which supplies 40 percent of the world's crude, to cut output when it meets in Cairo on Nov. 29, group Secretary-General Abdalla el-Badri said, according to Kuwaiti news agency KUNA.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries called the Cairo meeting after the 1.5 million-barrel-a-day production cut announced last month failed to stem a slump in prices. Crude has lost more than $90 from its July 11 record of $147.27 a barrel.

Brent crude oil for January settlement fell as much as $1.06, or 2 percent, to $51.25 a barrel on London's ICE Futures Europe exchange. It was at $52.32 at 1:22 p.m. London time.

The Energy Department is scheduled to release its weekly report tomorrow at 10:35 a.m. in Washington.

Refineries probably operated at 84.6 percent of capacity, unchanged from the week before, Bloomberg's survey showed. Gasoline stockpiles probably increased 1 million barrels from 198.1 million barrels a week earlier, and supplies of distillate fuel likely rose 700,000 barrels from 128.4 million barrels.

The U.S. dollar rose to $1.2645 against the euro as of 1:04 p.m. in London from $1.2650 yesterday in New York.,
11/18/2008 6:55:03 AM