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U.S. Crude Supply Gains Push Prices Down

Paul Ausick

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) released its weekly petroleum status report Wednesday morning. U.S. commercial crude inventories increased by 5.2 million barrels last week, maintaining a total U.S. commercial crude inventory to 379.8 million barrels, and they remain above the upper end of the five-year range for this time of the year.

Total gasoline inventories also decreased by 1.8 million barrels last week but remain near the top of the five-year average range. Total motor gasoline supplied (the EIA's measure of consumption) averaged about 8.8 million barrels a day over the past four weeks, flat with the prior week average.

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Distillate inventories rose by 1.5 million barrels last week and remain near the lower limit of the average range. Distillate product supplied averaged 3.7 million barrels a day over the past four weeks, down by 3.9% when compared with the same period last year. Distillate production totaled about 4.8 million barrels a day last week, roughly flat with the prior week.

The American Petroleum Institute last Wednesday reported that crude inventories rose by 3 million barrels in the week ending October 11, together with a drop of 510,000 barrels in gasoline supplies and an increase of 815,000 barrels in distillate supplies. For the same period, Platts estimated a rise of 3 million barrels in crude inventories, a decrease of 400,000 barrels in gasoline inventories and a decrease of 1.6 million barrels in distillate inventories.

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Crude prices closed at $97.80 on Tuesday and were trading lower before the EIA report at around $96.50 a barrel. They slipped further to around $96.30 shortly after the report was released.

For the past week, crude imports averaged about 7.7 million barrels a day, down about 348,000 barrels a day from the previous week. Refineries were running at 85.9% of capacity, with daily input of 14.9 million barrels a day, about 2,000 barrels a day higher than the previous week's total.

Gasoline pump prices have slipped a bit in the past week, and the 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 $3.34 today, compared with about $3.36 a week ago. Last month the price was $3.47 a gallon, and one year ago the price of a gallon of regular gasoline was $3.65.

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The United States Oil ETF (USO) was down 1.8%, at $34.74 in a 52-week range of $30.79 to $39.54.

The United States Gasoline ETF (UGA) was down about 1.9%, at $55.08, in a 52-week range of $53.35 to $65.86.

The United States Brent Oil ETF (BNO) was down 1.3%, at $42.79 in a 52-week range of $36.88 to $45.05.

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