Crude Price Tumbles on Big Inventory Gain

24/7 Wall St.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) released its weekly petroleum status report Wednesday morning. U.S. commercial crude inventories increased by 6.8 million barrels last week, maintaining a total U.S. commercial crude inventory to 370.5 million barrels, and have moved above the upper end of the five-year range for this time of the year.

Total gasoline inventories also increased by 100,000 barrels last week and have moved to the top of the five-year average range. Total motor gasoline supplied (the EIA’s measure of consumption) averaged 8.8 million barrels a day over the past four weeks, flat with the prior week average.

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Distillate inventories fell by 3.1 million barrels last week and remain near the lower limit of the average range. Distillate product supplied averaged 3.8 million barrels a day over the past four weeks, down by 0.1% when compared with the same period last year. Distillate production totaled about 4.6 million barrels a day last week, about 300,000 barrels a day less than the prior week.

The American Petroleum Institute Tuesday night reported that crude inventories rose by 2.8 million barrels last week, together with a drop of 2.8 million barrels in gasoline supplies and a decrease of 1.1 million barrels in distillate supplies. Platts estimated a rise of 2.2 million barrels in crude inventories, an increase of 1.3 million barrels in gasoline inventories, and a decrease of 1.9 million barrels in distillate inventories.

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Crude prices closed at $103.49 on Tuesday and were trading lower before the EIA report at around $102.50 a barrel and slipped further to around $101.90 shortly after the report was released.

For the past week, crude imports averaged about 8 million barrels a day, down about 320,000 barrels a day from the previous week. Refineries were running at 86% of capacity, with daily input of 14.9 million barrels a day, about 500,000 barrels a day lower than the previous week’s total.

Gasoline prices have continued slipping, as we noted Monday. According to the AAA Fuel Gauge report, a gallon of regular gasoline costs about $3.35 today compared with about $3.39 a week ago. Last month the price was $3.57 a gallon, and one year ago the price of a gallon of regular gasoline was $3.82.

Lower pump prices are about the only good news around for the U.S. economy. Refining throughput is down for the second straight week as stocks of crude oil and gasoline continue to build.

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The United States Oil ETF (USO) is down 1.8%, at $36.63 in a 52-week range of $30.79 to $39.54.

The United States Gasoline ETF (UGA) is down about 0.9%, at $55.76, in a 52-week range of $53.35 to $65.86.

The United States Brent Oil ETF (BNO) is down 1.6%, at $42.47 in a 52-week range of $36.88 to $45.05.

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