Oil falls below $70 after surging overnight

SINGAPORE: Oil prices fell below $70 a barrel Thursday in Asia after surging overnight on signs U.S. gasoline demand may be improving.

Benchmark crude for November deliver was down 72 cents at $69.89 by midday in Singapore in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The contract jumped $3.90 to settle at $70.61 on Wednesday after the Energy Information Administration said U.S. gasoline stockpiles unexpectedly dropped 1.6 million barrels last week from the previous week.

Analysts had expected a jump of 1.2 million barrels, according to a survey by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos.

The EIA also said demand for gasoline over the four weeks ended Sept. 25 was 5.4 percent higher than last year.

“Gasoline demand continues to improve,” Barclays Capital said in a report. “We see the global market adjustment as remaining on track for a slow and steady soft landing for both prices and quantities.”

Barclays said it expects crude to average $76 a barrel in the fourth quarter and $85 next year.

Other inventory data was less encouraging. Crude supplies grew more than expected last week, according to the government report, and they have now swelled to 11.4 percent above what they were last year.

In London, Brent crude fell 65 cents to $68.42 the ICE Futures exchange.

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