Crude Oil Price Steady Following 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 2.1 million barrels last week, maintaining a total U.S. commercial crude inventory of 394.1 million barrels. The commercial crude inventory is down about 3% compared with the five-year average for this time of year.

Tuesday evening the American Petroleum Institute (API) reported that crude inventories increased by about 1.25 million barrels in the week ending September 14. Gasoline inventories decreased by 1.5 million barrels and distillate stockpiles rose by about 1.5 million barrels. For the same period, analysts expected crude inventories to decrease by about 2.7 million barrels. Gasoline inventories were seen down just 104,000 barrels and distillate inventories were expected to rise by about 650,000 barrels.

Continuing declines in supply from Venezuela and Iran remain the main reason for rising crude oil prices. Saudi Arabia, which indicated on Tuesday that it would be happy to see Brent crude prices rise to $80 a barrel, also may be ready to reduce supplies or, at least, take no action to make up any supply deficits.

Total gasoline inventories decreased by 1.7 million barrels last week, according to the EIA, and remain about 8% above the five-year average range. U.S. refineries produced about 10.3 million barrels of gasoline a day last week, down by 100,000 barrels compared with the prior week. Total motor gasoline supplied (the agency’s proxy for demand) averaged 9.7 million barrels a day for the past four weeks, unchanged compared with the prior week’s average.

Before the EIA report, benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude for October delivery traded up about 1%, at around $70.40 a barrel, and it was unchanged shortly after the report’s release. WTI for October delivery opened at $69.80 Wednesday morning, down about 0.1% from Tuesday’s settlement price of $69.85. The 52-week range on October futures is $50.06 to $71.63.

Week over week, U.S. crude oil exports rose by 539,000 barrels a day last week and U.S. production rose from 10.9 million barrels a day to 11.0 million. Exports averaged 2.37 million barrels a day last week and have a cumulative daily average for the year of 1.81 million barrels a day, a 137% increase over the year-ago export total.

Distillate inventories rose by 800,000 barrels last week and are now about 2% below the five-year average range for this time of year. Distillate product supplied averaged 4 million barrels a day for the past four weeks, unchanged compared with the prior week’s average. Distillate production averaged 5.5 million barrels a day last week, also unchanged compared to the prior week’s production.

For the past week, crude imports averaged 8 million barrels a day, up by 433,000 compared with the previous week. Refineries were running at 95.4% of capacity, with daily input averaging 17.4 million barrels a day, about 442,000 less than the previous week’s average. Exports of refined products rose by 363,000 barrels a day last week to 5.22 million barrels a day.

According to AAA, the current national average pump price per gallon of regular gasoline is $2.843, up less than a penny from $2.839 a week ago and virtually unchanged compared with the month-ago price. Last year at this time, a gallon of regular gasoline cost $2.615 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 0.9% to $84.35, in a 52-week range of $72.16 to $89.30. Over the past 12 months, Exxon stock has traded up about 5.2%.

Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX) traded up about 1.2%, at $119.52 in a 52-week range of $108.02 to $133.88. As of last night’s close, Chevron shares are trading up about 2.8% over the past year.

The United States Oil ETF (NYSEARCA: USO) traded up about 0.6%, at $14.77 in a 52-week range of $9.92 to $15.25.

The VanEck Vectors Oil Services ETF (NYSEAMERICAN: OIH) traded up about 1.7% to $24.81, in a 52-week range of $22.73 to $29.87.