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Crude futures slip amid expected stock build, US economic concern

Dubai — Crude oil futures were lower Tuesday during mid-morning Asia trade amid an expected build in US crude inventories and concern about the strength of the US economy.

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At 10:30 am Singapore time (0230 GMT), June ICE Brent crude futures moved 23 cents/b (0.32%) lower from Monday's settle to $70.95/b, while the NYMEX May light sweet crude contract moved 11 cents/b (0.17%) lower at $63.29/b.

According to analysts surveyed Monday by S&P Global Platts, commercial crude inventories in the US for the week ended April 12 likely added 1.8 million barrels.

Historically weak refinery utilization likely contributed to the expected stock increase, analysts said. Refinery runs are expected to average 0.9 percentage point last week at 88.4% of total capacity.

Refined product stocks likely dipped last week, analysts said, with gasoline inventories expected 2.5 million barrels lower at 226.63 million barrels and distillate stocks down 1.6 million barrels at 126.45 million barrels.

The report on last week's US crude inventory from the American Petroleum Institute is due Tuesday while the more definitive numbers from the US Energy information Administration are scheduled for release Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the US stock market ended the trading session on Monday lower as two major US banks reported mixed results, analysts said.

"Crude oil prices slipped as a disappointing earnings season in the US raised concerns about the strength of the economy," ANZ analysts said in a note.

"The pullback in prices should come as no surprise, given the rally we've seen over the past couple of weeks. Moreover, the drivers of that move continue to provide some underlying support," they added.

"Going ahead, continue to watch for headlines pertaining to China-US trade negotiations and the China data dump on Wednesday for further cues," OCBC Bank analysts said in a note Monday. Among the reports due Wednesday is China's GDP.

As of 0230 GMT, the US Dollar Index was up 0.04% at 96.60.

--Avantika Ramesh, avantika.ramesh@spglobal.com

--Edited by Claudia Carpenter, claudia.carpenter@spglobal.com