Oil futures: Oil treads water; waiting for fed action

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Nymex oil futures meandered lower Wednesday morning in light trading as investors wait to see what action the Federal Reserve may announce in the afternoon.

Light, sweet crude for November delivery fell 67 cents, or 0.8%, to $86.25 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude on the ICE Futures Europe exchange rose 36 cents, or 0.3%, to $110.90 a barrel.

The Fed's policy-making arm wraps up a two-day meeting later Wednesday. Market observers are speculating that the Fed may announce another round of quantitative easing, or QE--particularly a policy nicknamed "the twist." That would focus on shoring up long-term interest rates to spur greater capital investment and lending now.

However, traders are mixed on what impact a "twist" would have on the oil market.

Investors also are looking toward the Energy Information Administration's release of oil inventory data for the week ended Sept. 16. Crude-oil stockpiles were expected to have fallen by 900,000 barrels, according to the mean of 15 analyst forecasts gathered by Dow Jones Newswires.

The American Petroleum Institute, an industry trade association, reported late Tuesday afternoon that crude inventories rose 2.574 million barrels.

The spread between the Nymex and Brent contracts is widening once again as reports of North Sea crude shipping delays are propping up the Brent price. The spread was $24.30, up 68 cents, in morning trading, an increase of 3.7% since its Monday settlement.

Front-month October reformulated gasoline blendstock, or RBOB, rose 39 cents, or 0.14%, to $2.7053 a gallon. October heating oil dropped 47 cents, or 0.17%, to $2.9569 a gallon.



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