TOKYO Oil prices rose in early Asian trading on Thursday, shrugging off a smaller than expected decline in U.S. stockpiles as the market waited with bated breath for the result of Britain’s “Brexit” vote.
Trading has been choppy in the run up to Thursday’s vote on whether Britain leaves or stays in the European Union (EU), and is expected to remain so before results start filtering through late on Thursday or early Friday.
Brent’s August front-month contract LCOc1 was up 41 cents at $50.29 a barrel at 0038 GMT. It closed down 74 cents, or 1.5 percent, at $49.88 a barrel on Wednesday.
Prices for U.S. oil CLc1 were also higher, rising 43 cents to $49.56 a barrel.
“A positive tone in the commodity markets continues to support prices,” ANZ said in a morning note. “However the gains remain limited as investors await the outcome of the EU vote in the UK.”
U.S. crude inventories fell less than expected last week, while product inventories were up slight, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.
Crude inventories USOILC=ECI dropped 917,000 barrels in the week ended June 17, compared with expectations for a decrease of 1.7 million barrels. It was the fifth consecutive week of draw downs for crude inventories.
The pound rose to a six-month high against the dollar early on Thursday after the latest polls showed those in favour of Britain remaining in the EU were in the majority. [FRX/]
The yen JPY=, often a safe-haven currency for risk averse investors, was down about 0.3 percent, while the Nikkei rose by slightly more than that.
(Reporting by Aaron Sheldrick; Editing by Joseph Radford)