Oil gains a fifth day after US stockpile drop amid rate optimism

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Reuters
KEY POINTS
  • Brent crude was up 44 cents, or 0.7%, at $65.16 a barrel by 0324 GMT.
  • U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude gained 41 cents, or 0.7%, to $58.46 a barrel.
Reusable: Oil tanker France sunset 151016
Jean-Paul Pelissier | Reuters

Oil prices rose for a fifth day on Wednesday, buoyed by a bigger-than-expected drop in U.S. inventories and as investors awaited a widely expected cut in interest rates by the Federal Reserve, the first in more than 10 years.

Brent crude was up 44 cents, or 0.7%, at $65.16 a barrel by 0324 GMT.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude gained 41 cents, or 0.7%, to $58.46 a barrel.

“The market is quite optimistic leading into what the Fed is going to do on interest rates and as a result of that we’ll see more demand,” Jonathan Barratt, chief investment officer at Probis Group in Sydney, said by phone, referring to the widely expected cut.

Central bankers in the United States began their two-day meeting on Tuesday and were expected to lower borrowing costs for the first time since the depths of the financial crisis more than a decade ago.

U.S. consumer spending and prices rose moderately in June, pointing to slower economic growth and benign inflation that cemented expectations of Fed rate cuts.

U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday reiterated his call for the Fed to make a large interest rate cut. That would be an unlikely move by the central bankers, Barratt said.

Despite the gains in prices, Brent is set to ease in July due to ongoing worries about demand, heading for a decline of about 2%, while WTI is down 1 cent.

Still, U.S. inventories have been falling in recent weeks suggesting demand concerns are overstated.

Crude stockpiles fell again last week, along with gasoline and distillate inventories, data from industry group the American Petroleum Institute (API) showed on Tuesday.

“There is a definitive seasonal trend emerging as inventory draws continue to beat analysts’ expectations by a mile suggesting analysts have grossly underestimated consumption and the breadth of seasonal demand this year,” VM Markets Pte said in a note.

Crude inventories fell by 6 million barrels in the week ended July 26 to 443 million barrels, compared with analysts’ expectations in a Reuters poll for a decrease of 2.6 million barrels, the API data showed.

If confirmed by U.S. government data on Wednesday morning, the decline would put crude stocks down for a seventh week in a row. That would be longest stretch since they fell for a record 10 consecutive weeks ending in January 2018.

Total crude stockpiles, however, would still be about 3% higher than the five-year average.

Oil prices edge lower after US inventories build

Oil prices edge lower after US inventories build

Reuters

KEY POINTS
  • Brent futures eased 2 cents to $69.29 by 0100 GMT. On Wednesday, Brent dipped 6 cents, after touching $69.96, the highest since Nov. 12, when it last traded above $70.
  • U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was down 14 cents, or 0.2 percent, at $62.34 a barrel. The contract fell 12 cents in the previous session after briefly hitting $62.99, also the highest since November.
Reusable: Rusted oil extraction equipment
An idled pump jack, once used to extract crude oil from the ground, and a tank battery, used to temporarily store freshly-pumped crude, rust in a farmer’s field near Ridgway, Ill., Jan. 21, 2015.
Getty Images

Oil prices dipped on Thursday, with Brent edging away from the psychologically important $70 level after easing in the previous session on data showing a surprise build in U.S. inventories.

Brent futures eased 2 cents to $69.29 by 0100 GMT. On Wednesday, Brent dipped 6 cents, after touching $69.96, the highest since Nov. 12, when it last traded above $70.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was down 14 cents, or 0.2 percent, at $62.34 a barrel. The contract fell 12 cents in the previous session after briefly hitting $62.99, also the highest since November.

Crude oil inventories in the United States rose by 7.2 million barrels last week, as net imports climbed, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday. Analysts had forecast a decrease of 425,000 barrels.

The increase “encouraged a wave of profit taking as traders are opting to take some chips off the table ahead of the psychologically significant $70 per barrel for prompt Brent,” Stephen Innes, head of trading and market strategy at SPI Asset Management, said in a note.

The $70 level “could prove to be the real litmus test for this current rally,” he added.

Brent, the global benchmark, is up nearly 30 percent this year, while WTI has gained nearly 40 percent, with prices underpinned by tightening global supply and signs of demand picking up.

U.S. crude production climbed 100,000 barrels per day (bpd) to a record 12.2 million bpd, after hovering around 12-12.1 million bpd since mid-February, according to the data from the Energy Information Administration.

Refined fuel inventories fell more than expected, with gasoline drawing down for a seventh straight week, as refining rates remained low, the data from the statistical arm of the Department of Energy showed.