Oil traded near the lowest price since March 2009 before U.S. government data forecast to show that crude stockpiles in the world’s biggest consumer expanded further from a record high.
Futures were little changed in New York after falling 2.1 percent on Monday. Crude inventories probably gained by 3.3 million barrels to 452.2 million last week, according to a Bloomberg News survey before an Energy Information Administration report. Prices may drop to $40 a barrel if they fail to stabilize at current levels, said Stephen Schork, who’s worked in commodities trading for more than 25 years.
Rising U.S. supplies are exacerbating a global glut that drove prices almost 50 percent lower last year. Iran could increase exports by 1 million barrels a day if international sanctions were lifted, its oil minister said as talks resumed over its nuclear program. The nation is the fifth-largest producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
West Texas Intermediate for April delivery was at $43.94 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, up 6 cents, at 11:19 a.m. Sydney time. The contract slid 96 cents to $43.88 on Monday. The volume of all futures traded was about 66 percent below the 100-day average. Prices have decreased 18 percent this year.