Crude oil futures declined slightly and hovered above $79 a barrel during Asian trading hours Wednesday, as doubts over the ability of European leaders to address the debt crisis at the EU summit to be held in Brussels this week continued to weigh on the sentiment.
Light sweet crude for the August delivery declined 0.13 percent or 10 cents to $79.26 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange during Asian trading hours. Brent crude oil futures for August delivery fell 0.30 percent at $92.74 a barrel on the ICE futures exchange in London.
Investors are opting for caution on concerns that European Union leaders' two-day meeting in Brussels won't come up with any substantial measures to tackle the debt crisis. The idea of sharing Europe's debt was ruled out once and for all after German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Tuesday that eurobonds would not be a reality as long as I live.
Meanwhile, Greek leaders will attempt to negotiate a better deal on its bailout. Greek leaders would be pushing for more time to implement the bailout conditions which have become mandatory for the release of the second bout of rescue package from the EU and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). However, the EU and the IMF are unlikely to make anything else other than marginal concessions at this stage.
Brent oil futures surged 2 percent Tuesday and settled above $93 for the first time in a week after Norway's Statoil declared to shut four more oil platforms in the North Sea. This will reduce output at the world's eighth largest oil producer by 150,000 barrels per day, reported Reuters.
Late Tuesday, the American Petroleum Institute said that crude inventories had increased by 507,000 barrels for the week ending June 22.
After the markets open Wednesday, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) is due to report weekly inventory data that are expected to show that stockpiles fell by 0.45 million barrels last week.