Gasoline Supply Sharply Down

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The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) released its weekly petroleum status report this morning. U.S. commercial crude inventories increased by 900,000 barrels last week, bringing the total U.S. commercial crude inventory to 388.6 million barrels, still well above the upper limit of the five-year range for this time of the year.

Total gasoline inventories decreased by 3.9 million barrels last week and remain in the upper half of the five-year average range. Total motor gasoline supplied averaged over 8.5 million barrels a day over the past four weeks — a drop of about 1.7% compared with the same period a year ago.

Distillate inventories rose by 100,000 barrels last week, and remain in the lower half of the average range. Distillate product supplied averaged more than 3.7 million barrels a day over the past four weeks, down about 2.6% when compared with the same period last year. Distillate production totaled 4.3 million barrels a day last week, down by about 200,000 barrels a day when compared with the prior week.

The American Petroleum Institute last night reported an inventory decrease of 800,000 barrels in crude supplies last week, together with a decrease of 2.7 million barrels in gasoline supplies and a rise of 700,000 barrels in distillate supplies. Platts estimated a build of 1.4 million barrels in crude inventories. A Dow Jones survey forecast a build of 1.2 million barrels to crude oil inventories, along with a drop of 400,000 barrels in gasoline stocks and a rise of 300,000 barrels in distillate supplies.

Crude prices were up about 1% before the EIA report at around $90.05 a barrel and rose by a further $0.05 immediately following the report.

For the past week, crude imports averaged more than 7.6 million barrels a day, an increase of about 133,000 barrels a day from the previous week. Refineries were running at 83.5% of capacity, with daily input of 14.5 million barrels a day, about 586,000 barrels a day less than the previous week.

Today’s report is likely to strengthen crude prices, but the significant drop in refinery utilization is the big story this week. Refining is slowing down largely because storage tanks are nearly full. Any uptick in crude prices due to this inventory report is likely to be transitory. Oil and gasoline prices are on a steady downward slope as consumption falls.

The United States Oil ETF (NYSEMKT: USO) is up 0.7%, at $32.09 in a 52-week range of $29.02 to $40.29.

The United States Gasoline ETF (NYSEMKT: UGA) is up 0.5%, at $54.19, in a 52-week range of $45.13 to $65.86.