Crude Oil Price Dips Again on Unexpected Inventory Build

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) released its weekly petroleum status report Wednesday morning showing that U.S. commercial crude inventories increased by 5.8 million barrels last week, maintaining a total U.S. commercial crude inventory of 411.1 million barrels. The commercial crude inventory is about 2% below the five-year average for this time of year.

Tuesday evening the American Petroleum Institute (API) reported that crude inventories rose by 629,000 barrels in the week ending July 13. Gasoline inventories increased by 425,000 barrels and distillate stockpiles rose by about 1.7 million barrels. For the same period, analysts expected crude inventories to decrease by about 3.6 million barrels. Gasoline inventories were seen down by 44,000 barrels, and distillate inventories were expected to rise by 873,000 barrels.

The unexpected jump in crude oil inventories looks to weigh further on prices that have dropped by nearly 10% since last week. Last week’s unexpectedly large decline in crude inventories started the tumble, which got a further push from talk of releasing crude from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. This week’s increase is likely the result of a decline of more than half a million barrels a day in exports, a small increase in production and a jump in imports.

Total gasoline inventories decreased by 3.2 million barrels last week, according to the EIA, and remained about 5% above the five-year average range. U.S. refineries produced about 10.3 million barrels of gasoline a day last week, down by about 400,000 barrels a day compared to the prior week. Total motor gasoline supplied (the agency’s proxy for demand) averaged 9.6 million barrels a day for the past four weeks, flat compared with the prior week.

Before the EIA report, benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude for August delivery traded down about 0.9% at around $67.45 a barrel, and it slipped to around $67.15 (down about 1.4%) shortly after the report’s release. WTI settled at $68.08 on Tuesday and opened at $67.64 Wednesday morning. The 52-week range on August futures is $47.39 to $75.27.

Week over week, U.S. crude oil exports fell by 566,000 barrels a day and U.S. production rose by 100,000 barrels a day to 11 million barrels. Exports averaged 1.46 million barrels a day last week and have a cumulative daily average for the year of 1.82 million barrels a day, a 140% increase over the year-ago export total.

Distillate inventories fell by 400,000 barrels last week and are about 13% below the five-year average range for this time of year. Distillate product supplied averaged 5.2 million barrels a day for the past four weeks, up by about 1.1 million compared with the prior week. Distillate production averaged 3.9 million barrels a day last week, down by about 1.3 million compared to the prior week’s production.

For the past week, crude imports averaged 9.1 million barrels a day, up by 1.6 million compared with the previous week. Refineries were running at 94.3% of capacity, with daily input averaging 17.2 million barrels a day, about 413,000 less than the previous week’s average. Exports of refined products fell by 885,000 barrels a day last week to 4.74 million.

According to AAA, the current national average pump price per gallon of regular gasoline is $2.865, down less than a penny from $2.872 a week ago and down three cents per gallon compared with the month-ago price. Last year at this time, a gallon of regular gasoline cost $2.256 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 down about 0.7%, at $81.74 in a 52-week range of $72.16 to $89.30. Over the past 12 months, Exxon stock has traded up about 1.4%.

Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX) traded down about 1.4%, at $120.23 in a 52-week range of $102.55 to $133.88. As of last night’s close, Chevron shares are trading up about 15.9% over the past year.

The United States Oil ETF (NYSEARCA: USO) traded down about 0.5%, at $13.88 in a 52-week range of $9.00 to $15.08.

The VanEck Vectors Oil Services ETF (NYSEAMERICAN: OIH) traded down about 0.9%, at $25.652 in a 52-week range of $21.70 to $29.87.

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