Oil prices hovered just below record highs on Wednesday as reduced exports from Iraq and looming storms in the oil-producing Gulf of Mexico kept concerns simmering over supply disruptions.
Dealers said data for U.S. fuel stockpiles due later in the day would provide direction to the market, which has hit a string of all-time peaks in the last eight trading days on fears that tightly stretched supplies had left little leeway for disruption.
U.S. light crude (CLc1: Quote, Profile, Research) climbed eight cents to $44.60 a barrel, below Tuesday's $45.04, the highest since oil futures were launched on the New York Mercantile Exchange in 1983. U.S. prices have shot up 19 percent, or $7 a barrel, since the end of June.
"The latest push higher was a bit overdone and I expect a retracement back to the $37 or $38 level unless there are any other shocks on the supply side," said David Hynes, industry analyst at ANZ Bank in Melbourne, informs Reuters.com