Crude Oil Price Jumps

Crude Oil price jumps following light inventory growth, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) released its weekly petroleum status report Wednesday morning. U.S. commercial crude inventories increased by 1.3 million barrels last week, maintaining a total U.S. commercial crude inventory of 483.7 million barrels, the 13th consecutive week of a higher total than at any time in at least 80 years.

crude oil barrels

Crude oil for May delivery had risen sharply from a low of around $50 a barrel last Friday to more than $54 a barrel on Wednesday. U.S. domestic production is beginning to feel the impact of all those idled drilling rigs. Production in North Dakota dropped by 15,000 barrels a day in February and is expected to drop further. The International Energy Agency (IEA) raised its forecast for demand growth by 90,000 barrels a day to 1.1 million barrels a day.

Hedge funds have been boosting their long positions in the futures markets, and so have swaps dealers. All of this is leading traders to bid up barrels on the expectation that prices will continue to rise. That is pretty well decided, but no one is confident about where the price rise will peter out. Our bet is around $60 a barrel, and the 2015 average West Texas Intermediate (WTI) barrel will cost around $55 by the end of the year. Unless we are wrong — in which case the prices are likely to be lower, not higher.

Total gasoline inventories decreased by 2.1 million barrels last week, and remain well above the upper limit of the five-year average range. Total motor gasoline supplied (the EIA’s measure of consumption) averaged 8.9 million barrels a day for the past four weeks, up by 0.7% compared with the same period a year ago.

Distillate inventories increased by 2 million barrels last week and moved into the middle of the average range for this time of year. Distillate product supplied averaged about 4 million barrels a day over the past four weeks, up by 2.9% when compared with the same period last year. Distillate production averaged about 5 million barrels a day last week, about flat with the prior week’s production.

Culled from:

Tuesday evening the American Petroleum Institute (API) reported that crude inventories rose by 2.6 million barrels, gasoline inventories fell by 4.1 million barrels and distillate inventories slipped by 566,000 barrels in the week ending April 10. For the same period, analysts had estimated an increase of 3.5 million barrels in crude inventories and a drop of 200,000 barrels in gasoline stockpiles.

Before the EIA report, WTI crude for May delivery was trading up about 1.5% at around $54.10 a barrel. The WTI price rose further to around $54.70 (up about 2.7% for the day) immediately after the report was released Wednesday morning. The 52-week range on WTI futures is $44.03 to $98.87.

For the past week, crude imports averaged over 7.1 million barrels a day, down by 1.1 million barrels a day compared with the previous week. Refineries were running at 92.3% of capacity, with daily input of more than 16.2 million barrels, about 283,000 barrels a day above the previous week’s average. Refinery utilization follows the crack spread, and right now refiners are in the driver’s seat as far as crude prices are concerned.

According to, the current national average pump price per gallon of regular gasoline is $2.397, up from $2.391 a week ago and down from $2.432 a month ago. Last year a gallon of regular cost $3.644 on average in the United States.

Here is a look at how share prices for two exchange traded funds reacted to this latest report.

The United States Oil ETF (NYSEMKT: USO) traded up about 2.9%, at $19.37 in a 52-week range of $15.61 to $39.44.

The Market Vectors Oil Services ETF (NYSEMKT: OIH) traded up about 2.1%, at $37.61 in a 52-week range of $31.51 to $58.01.

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