Crude Oil Price Bounces Around After Mixed Inventory Report

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The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) released its weekly petroleum status report Wednesday morning showing that U.S. commercial crude inventories decreased by 4.6 million barrels last week, maintaining a total U.S. commercial crude inventory of 425.3 million barrels. The commercial crude inventory remains in the lower half of the average range for this time of year.

Tuesday evening the American Petroleum Institute (API) reported that crude inventories fell by about 3.3 million barrels in the week ending March 30. Gasoline inventories rose by about 1.1 million barrels and distillate stockpiles decreased by 2.2 million barrels. For the same period, analysts expected crude inventories to rise by 1.4 million barrels.

Total gasoline inventories decreased by 1.1 million barrels last week, according to the EIA, and now sit at the upper limit of the five-year average range. U.S. refineries produced over 10.1 million barrels of gasoline a day last week, down by about 200,000 barrels a day compared to the prior week. Total motor gasoline supplied (the agency’s proxy for demand) averaged over 9.3 million barrels a day for the past four weeks, up about 0.4% compared with the same period a year ago.

Before the EIA report, benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude for May delivery traded down about 1.7% at around $62.43 a barrel, and it rose to around $62.69 (down about 1.2%) shortly after the report’s release. WTI settled at $63.51 on Tuesday and opened at $63.60 Wednesday morning. The 52-week range on May futures is $44.34 to $66.55.

Crude oil prices were tamped down Wednesday on the escalation in the trade war between the United States and China. Anything that involves significant risk and could be caught up in the trade fight is losing ground. And there are few things riskier than oil futures.

U.S. crude oil exports rose by 597,000 barrels a day last week, and U.S. production rose by 27,000 barrels a day to 10.46 million barrels. Exports averaged 2.18 million barrels a day last week and have a cumulative daily average for the year of 1.54 million barrels a day, a 104% increase over the year-ago export total.

Distillate inventories increased by 500,000 barrels last week and remain in the lower half of the average range for this time of year. Distillate product supplied averaged 4 million barrels a day for the past four weeks, down by 4.4% compared with the same period last year. Distillate production averaged over 5 million barrels a day last week, up by about 200,000 barrels a day compared to the prior week’s production.

For the past week, crude imports averaged 7.9 million barrels a day, down by 250,000 compared with the previous week. Refineries were running at 93% of capacity, with daily input averaging over 16.9 million barrels a day, about 141,000 more than the previous week’s average. Exports of refined products fell by 169,000 barrels a day last week to 4.74 million barrels a day.

According to AAA, the current national average pump price per gallon of regular gasoline is $2.658, up more than two cents from $2.635 a week ago and more than 12 cents per gallon compared with the month-ago price. Last year at this time, a gallon of regular gasoline cost $2.348 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 down about 1.1%, at $74.22 in a 52-week range of $72.16 to $89.30. Over the past 12 months, Exxon stock has traded down about 10%.

Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX) traded down about 0.6%, at $114.12 in a 52-week range of $102.55 to $133.88. As of last night’s close, Chevron shares are trading up about 5.9% over the past year.

The United States Oil ETF (NYSEARCA: USO) traded down about 0.7%, at $12.72 in a 52-week range of $8.65 to $13.30.

The VanEck Vectors Oil Services ETF (NYSEAMERICAN: OIH) traded down about 1.2%, at $23.50 in a 52-week range of $21.70 to $31.54.