Crude Oil Futures Rise on Sharp Inventory Decline

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The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) released its weekly petroleum status report this morning. U.S. commercial crude inventories dropped by 6.9 million barrels last week, maintaining a total U.S. commercial crude inventory to 367 million barrels, now in the upper half of the five-year range for this time of the year.

Total gasoline inventories increased by 3.1 million barrels last week and are now well above the upper limit of the five-year average range. Total motor gasoline supplied (the EIA’s measure of consumption) averaged about 9.1 million barrels a day over the past four weeks — up by 2.3% from the same period a year ago.

Distillate inventories rose by 3.9 million barrels last week, and are now in the lower half of the average range. Distillate product supplied averaged 4 million barrels a day over the past four weeks, up about 12% when compared with the same period last year. Distillate production totaled 5.1 million barrels a day last week, up about 100,000 barrels a day compared with the prior week.

The American Petroleum Institute last night reported that crude inventories fell by 2.6 million barrels last week, together with a rise of 2.6 million barrels in gasoline supplies and a rise of 3.8 million barrels in distillate supplies. Platts estimated a drop of 2.5 million barrels in crude inventories, no change in gasoline inventories and a rise of 1.8 million barrels in distillate inventories.

Crude prices were down about flat before the EIA report at just below $106 a barrel and climbed a bit to around $106.10 shortly after the report was released.

For the past week, crude imports averaged about 7.7 million barrels a day, up about 180,000 barrels a day from the previous week. Refineries were running at 92.8% of capacity, with daily input of 16.2 million barrels a day, about 100,000 barrels a day more than the previous week.

This marks the third straight week of a significant drop in crude supplies. But inventories remain quite high and gasoline supply is more than plentiful. According to the AAA Fuel Gauge report, a gallon of regular gasoline costs about $3.66 today compared with about $3.50 a week ago. Last month the price was $3.61 a gallon and one year ago the price of a gallon of regular gasoline was $3.41.

The United States Oil ETF (NYSEMKT: USO) is up 0.6%, at $37.66 in a 52-week range of $30.79 to $37.80.

The United States Gasoline ETF (NYSEMKT: UGA) is down 0.5%, at $62.30, in a 52-week range of $50.90 to $65.86.

The United States Brent Oil ETF (NYSEMKT: BNO) is up fractionally, at $82.68 in a 52-week range of $72.68 to $88.71.

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