Oil Prices Steady On Small Inventory Build

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By Julianne Geiger

The American Petroleum Institute (API) reported on Tuesday a build in crude oil inventories of 2.562 million barrels for the week ending January 15.

Analysts had predicted an inventory draw of 1.167 million barrels for the week.

In the previous week, the API reported a draw in oil inventories of 5.821-million barrels, after analysts had predicted a draw of 2.266 million barrels.

Oil prices were mixed on Wednesday ahead of the data release, with WTI up and Brent down.  A widespread lockdown in China that has sequestered millions of residents out of concern for an increase in coronavirus cases there, the IEA’s grim outlook on oil demand, a slow global rollout of the coronavirus vaccine that has been plagued with technical problems as well as reports of adverse effects, and a lingering U.S. stimulus high as investors dream of increased economic activities and are emboldened to sink money into riskier endeavors—like oil—all contributed to a muddy-water effect for the commodity.

An hour before Wednesday’s data release, WTI had risen by $0.30 on the day (+0.57%) to $53.28, up a modest $.015 since last week.

The Brent crude benchmark, on the other hand, had fallen on the day $0.05 at that time (-0.09%) to $56.55—down $0.70 on the week.

U.S. oil production has stagnated at 11.0 million bpd, according to the latest data provided by the Energy Information Administration, and there is unlikely to be any significant increase to U.S. oil production while stocks remain high—higher than a few million barrel draw could correct.

The API reported a build in gasoline inventories of 1.129 million barrels for the week ending January 15—compared to the previous week’s 1.876-million-barrel build. Analysts had expected a 2.771-million-barrel build for the week.

Finishing off the inventory builds for the week is distillates, which saw an increase of 816,000 barrels for the week, adding onto last week’s 4.433-million-barrel increase, while Cushing inventories saw the only decrease this week, falling by 4.285 million barrels.

At 4:34 p.m. EDT, the WTI benchmark was trading at $53.28, while Brent crude was trading at $55.97.

Crude Oil

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