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Shrinking U.S. Gasoline Supply Supports Higher Crude Oil Price

Paul Ausick

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) released its weekly petroleum status report Wednesday morning. U.S. commercial crude inventories increased by 4.1 million barrels last week, bringing a total U.S. commercial crude inventory to 383.9 million barrels and remaining above the upper limit of the five-year range for this time of the year.

Total gasoline inventories also decreased by 1.7 million barrels last week and are near the upper half of the five-year average range. Total motor gasoline supplied (the EIA's measure of consumption) averaged more than 8.9 million barrels a day over the past four weeks, up 100,000 barrels a day from the prior week average and up 3.2% compared with the same week a year ago.

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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, up by 1.8% when compared with the same period last year. Distillate production totaled about 4.9 million barrels a day last week, up about 100,000 barrels compared with the prior week.

Tuesday evening, the American Petroleum Institute reported that crude inventories rose by 5.9 million barrels in the week ending October 25, together with a rise of 700,000 barrels in gasoline supplies and a decrease of 2.5 million barrels in distillate supplies. For the same period, Platts estimated a rise of 3.5 million barrels in crude inventories, an increase of 1.5 million barrels in gasoline inventories and a decrease of 1.2 million barrels in distillate inventories.

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Crude prices closed at $98.20 on Tuesday, They were trading lower before the EIA report at around $97.15 a barrel and rose to around $97.30 shortly after the report was released.

For the past week, crude imports averaged about 7.5 million barrels a day, down about 200,000 barrels a day from the previous week. Refineries were running at 87.3% of capacity, with daily input of 15.1 million barrels a day, about 197,000 barrels a day higher than the previous week’s total.

Gasoline pump prices have slipped a bit in the past week, and a continuing drop in crude prices should keep those prices on the decline. According to the AAA Fuel Gauge report, a gallon of regular gasoline costs about $3.28 today, compared with about $3.34 a week ago. Last month the price was $3.40 a gallon, and one year ago the price of a gallon of regular gasoline was $3.53.

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The United States Oil ETF (USO) was down 1.2%, at $34.97 in a 52-week range of $30.79 to $39.54.

The United States Gasoline ETF (UGA) was up about 0.3%, at $55.73, in a 52-week range of $53.35 to $65.86.

The United States Brent Oil ETF (BNO) was up 0.6%, at $43.02 in a 52-week range of $36.88 to $45.05.

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