Crude Oil Price Slips on Large Rise in Gasoline Inventory

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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 5.1 million barrels last week, maintaining a total U.S. commercial crude inventory of 443 million barrels. The commercial crude inventory dropped into the middle of the average range for this time of year.

Tuesday evening the American Petroleum Institute (API) reported that crude inventories fell by nearly 7.4 million barrels in the week ending December 8. API also reported gasoline supplies rose by 2.3 million barrels and distillate inventories increased by 1.5 million barrels. For the same period, analysts had consensus estimates for a decrease of 3.8 million barrels in crude inventories, a rise of about 2.5 million barrels in gasoline and an increase of 900,000 barrels in distillate stockpiles.

Total gasoline inventories increased by 5.7 million barrels last week, according to the EIA, and moved into the upper half of the five-year average range. U.S. refineries produced about 10.1 million barrels of gasoline a day last week, up about 300,000 barrels a day compared to the prior week. Total motor gasoline supplied (the agency’s proxy for demand) averaged over 9.1 million barrels a day for the past four weeks, up about 1.6% compared with the same period a year ago.

Before the EIA report, benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude for January delivery traded down about 0.2% at around $57.25 a barrel, and it moved up to around $57.35 after the report’s release before slipping to around $57.20 minutes later. WTI settled at $57.14 on Tuesday and opened at $57.45 Wednesday morning. The 52-week range on January futures is $43.39 to $59.05.

In its Monthly Oil Market Report released this morning, OPEC reversed last month’s estimate of non-OPEC production for 2017 for a decline of 20,000 barrels a day to an increase of 15,000 barrels a day and a full-year increase of 810,000 barrels a day.

For 2018 non-OPEC supply is expected to rise by 990,000 barrels a day to an average of 58.81 million, an increase of 27,000 barrels a day compared with last month’s estimate.

U.S. production growth next year is now expected to rise by 1.05 million barrels a day, up by 18,000 barrels from last month’s forecast and more than the total increase forecast for all non-OPEC producers. This could be a big headache for the cartel at its June meeting when it may have to deal with members and partners eager to produce more.

Week over week, U.S. crude oil exports fell by 272,000 barrels a day last week, and U.S. production rose by 73,000 barrels a day to 9.78 million barrels a day. Exports averaged 1.09 million barrels a day last week and have a cumulative daily average for the year of 946,000 barrels a day, a 98.6% increase over the year-ago export total.

Distillate inventories decreased by 1.4 million barrels last week and remained in the lower half of the average range for this time of year. Distillate product supplied averaged over 4 million barrels a day for the past four weeks, up by 2.3% compared with the same period last year. Distillate production averaged over 5.2 million barrels a day last week, down by about 200,000 barrels a day compared to the prior week’s production.

For the past week, crude imports averaged about 7.4 million barrels a day, up by 161,000 compared with the previous week. Refineries were running at 93.4% of capacity, with daily input averaging 17 million barrels a day, about 243,000 less than the previous week’s average. Exports of refined products fell by 495,000 barrels a day last week to 4.55 million.

According to AAA, the current national average pump price per gallon of regular gasoline is $2.454, down 2.4 cents from $2.478 a week ago and up more than 10 cents per gallon compared with the month-ago price. Last year at this time, a gallon of regular gasoline cost $2.219 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 less than 0.1%, at $82.80 in a 52-week range of $76.05 to $92.27. Over the past 12 months, Exxon stock has traded down about 9%.

Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX) traded down about 0.2%, at $119.42 in a 52-week range of $102.55 to $122.30. As of last night’s close, Chevron shares are trading up about 2.2% over the past year.

The United States Oil ETF (NYSEARCA: USO) traded down about 0.3%, at $11.41 in a 52-week range of $8.65 to $12.00.

The VanEck Vectors Oil Services ETF (NYSEAMERICAN: OIH) traded down about 0.5%, at $25.11 in a 52-week range of $21.70 to $35.20.