Dip in Crude Oil Inventory Offset by Rise in Gasoline Stockpiles

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The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) released its weekly petroleum status report Wednesday morning. U.S. commercial crude inventories decreased by 1.9 million barrels last week, maintaining a total U.S. commercial crude inventory of 502.7 million barrels. The commercial crude inventory remains at historically high levels for this time of year according to the EIA.

Tuesday evening the American Petroleum Institute (API) reported that crude inventories fell by 752,000 barrels in the week ending September 16. API also reported gasoline supplies decreased by 3.7 million barrels and distillate inventories saw a drop of 1.4 million barrels. For the same period, analysts had estimated an increase of 343,000 barrels in crude inventories along, a rise of 178,000 barrels in gasoline supplies, and a decrease of 14,000 barrels of distillates.

Total gasoline inventories rose by 2 million barrels last week, according to the EIA, and remain well above the upper limit of the five-year average range. Total motor gasoline supplied (the agency’s measure of consumption) averaged 9.4 million barrels a day for the past four weeks, up by 3.6% compared with the same period a year ago.

Crude prices took a tumble on Tuesday following reports that there will be no production freeze from OPEC and other major producers. The API report that came after markets closed put some air under crude futures, but the mixed EIA report moderated the gain.

The increase in gasoline inventories indicates that the summer driving season is truly over. With scheduled maintenance and turnarounds to winter-grade fuel beginning, a stockpile increase heading into October is not uncommon.

Before the EIA report, benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude for November delivery traded up about 2.5% at around $45.79 a barrel and dipped to around $45.25 shortly after the report’s release. WTI crude settled at $44.67 on Tuesday. The 52-week range on November futures is $34.10 to $54.01.

Distillate inventories decreased by 1.9 million barrels last week but remain above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. Distillate product supplied averaged over 3.5 million barrels a day over the past four weeks, down by 6.4% compared with the same period last year. Distillate production averaged about 4.7 million barrels a day last week, down by about 300,000 barrels compared with the prior week’s production.

For the past week, crude imports averaged over 7.8 million barrels a day, down by 474,000 barrels a day compared with the previous week. Refineries were running at 90.1% of capacity, with daily input averaging over 16.3 million barrels, about 253,000 barrels a day less than the previous week’s average.

According to AAA, the current national average pump price per gallon of regular gasoline is $2.208, down from $2.214 a week ago and down less than a penny compared with the month-ago price. Last year at this time, a gallon of regular gasoline cost $2.290 on average in the United States.

Here is a look at how share prices for two blue-chip stocks and two exchange traded funds reacted to this latest report.

Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) traded up about 0.5%, at $83.65 in a 52-week range of $71.55 to $95.55. Over the past 12 months, Exxon stock has traded up more than 15% and is down about 19% since August 2014, as of Tuesday’s close.

Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX) traded flat, at $98.98, in a 52-week range of $75.33 to $107.58. As of the most recent close, Chevron shares have added more than 30% over the past 12 months and trade down nearly 26% since August 2014.

The United States Oil ETF (NYSEMKT: USO) traded up around 0.6%, at $10.22 in a 52-week range of $7.67 to $16.20.

The VanEck Vectors Oil Services ETF (NYSEMKT: OIH) traded up about 0.2% to $26.56, in a 52-week range of $20.46 to $32.78.