Crude Oil Prices Jumps to $49 Following Inventory Report

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The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) released its weekly petroleum status report Thursday morning. U.S. commercial crude inventories decreased by 6.4 million barrels last week, maintaining a total U.S. commercial crude inventory of 509.9 million barrels. The commercial crude inventory remained in the upper half of the average range for this time of year.

Wednesday evening the American Petroleum Institute (API) reported that crude inventories fell by whopping 8.7 million barrels in the week ending May 26. API also reported gasoline supplies decreased by 1.73 million barrels and distillate inventories decreased by 124,000 barrels. For the same period, an S&P Global Platts survey of analysts had consensus estimates for a decrease of 3.2 million barrels in crude inventories, a decrease of a million barrels in gasoline inventories, and a drop of 300,000 barrels in distillate stockpiles.

Total gasoline inventories decreased by 2.9 million barrels last week, according to the EIA, and remain near the upper limit of the five-year average range. Total motor gasoline supplied (the agency’s measure of consumption) averaged 9.6 million barrels a day for the past four weeks, down by 0.7% compared with the same period a year ago.

At last week’s meeting of OPEC, the cartel and its partners agreed to extend their production cuts of around 1.6 million barrels a day through the end of March 2018. Many analysts believe that absent a further cut to production, the extension of the current cuts won’t reduce global inventories sufficiently to return the supply-demand balance that OPEC members seek.

In fact, Saudi Arabia’s oil minister said that the cartel and its partners are committed to seeing global supply reach its five-year average by the end of the year. Oil markets, on the contrary, don’t want to hear about the situation in six months. As always, traders want to know what the oil producers are going to do right now.

And because the answer seems to be just to hang on, markets chopped crude prices and have shown little enthusiasm for future prices either.

Before the EIA report, benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude for July delivery traded up about 0.3% at around $48.56 a barrel and slipped to $48.44 shortly after the report’s release. Within a few minutes, however, the price had jumped to $49.07, up about 1.4% for the day. WTI crude settled at $48.32 on Wednesday. The 52-week range on July futures is $44.13 to $58.15.

Distillate inventories increased by 400,000 barrels last week and moved to near the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. Distillate product supplied averaged 4.2 million barrels a day over the past four weeks, up by 3% compared with the same period last year. Distillate production averaged over 5.2 million barrels a day last week, up slightly compared with the prior week’s production.

For the past week, crude imports averaged 8 million barrels a day, down by about 309,000 barrels a day compared with the previous week. Refineries were running at 95% of capacity, with daily input averaging over 17.5 million barrels a day, about 229,000 barrels a day more than the previous week’s average.

According to AAA, the current national average pump price per gallon of regular gasoline is $2.381, up just over a penny from $2.372 a week ago and down about half a penny per gallon compared with the month-ago price. Last year at this time, a gallon of regular gasoline cost $2.322 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 0.2%, at $80.68 in a 52-week range of $80.19 to $95.55, and the low was posted this morning. Over the past 12 months, Exxon stock has traded down about 9.6%.

Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX) traded up about 0.2%, at $103.68 in a 52-week range of $97.53 to $119.00. As of last night’s close, Chevron shares have added about 2.3% over the past 12 months.

The United States Oil ETF (NYSEMKT: USO) traded up about 10.4%, at $10.10 in a 52-week range of $9.23 to $12.45.

The VanEck Vectors Oil Services ETF (NYSEMKT: OIH) traded up about 0.7% to $26.12, in a 52-week range of $25.42 to $36.35.