SINGAPORE – Oil prices turned lower again in Asia on Wednesday after data indicated a rise in US stockpiles, reigniting concerns about a supply glut, while profit-takers stepped in after the previous day’s surge.

The American Petroleum Institute reported a 2.2 million-barrel rise in reserves last week, confounding expectations of a dip at the height of the crucial summer driving season when Americans go on holiday.

The figures rattled traders as the Department of Energy prepares to release later Wednesday official data, which is considered a key gauge of demand in the world’s top oil consumer.

At about 0340 GMT, US benchmark West Texas Intermediate fell 27 cents, or 0.58 percent, to $46.53 while Brent was 36 cents, or 0.74 percent, lower at $48.11.

“It’s bearish for oil if stockpiles gain because seasonally speaking, inventories tend to decline at least until mid-August,” Hong Sung Ki, a commodities analyst at Samsung Futures Inc., told Bloomberg News.

“But of course, we need to see whether this will be a one-time gain or not.”
Prices for both contracts surged almost five percent Tuesday from two-month lows after OPEC said it expected the global supply glut to ease this year and next thanks to reductions in output from producers outside the cartel, particularly the United States.

Prices have fluctuated between $44 and $52 a barrel over the past month after hitting near 13-year lows below $30 in February, but a surge in OPEC production in June revived fears about oversupply.-APP