U.S. crude oil stockpiles edged lower last week but gasoline inventories posted a larger-than-expected build on weakened demand, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on July 20.
Crude inventories fell by 446,000 barrels in the week to July 15 to 426.6 million barrels, compared with expectations in a Reuters poll for a 1.4 million-barrel rise.
Demand figures rebounded from the previous week’s sharp fall, and product supplied rose to 21 million bbl/d. However, gasoline demand continued to sag, and supply of that product over the last four weeks was 8.7 million bbl/d, or about 7.6% lower than the same time a year ago.
“You don’t really don't want to be going backwards on gasoline in the middle of the summer,” said Robert Yawger, executive director of energy futures at Mizuho.
U.S. gasoline stocks rose by 3.5 million barrels in the week to 228.4 million barrels, compared with expectations for a 71,000-barrel rise.
“The demand destruction is only still two weeks but sufficient to say it’s there. That's the big takeaway,” said John Kilduff, partner at Again Capital LLC in New York.
Oil prices were lower on the data. U.S. crude lost 1.8% to $102.35/bbl while Brent dropped 1.1% to $106.09/bbl.
Refinery crude runs fell by 321,000 bbl/d in the last week, the EIA said. Refinery utilization rates fell by 1.2 percentage points in the week, but refiners are still running at 93.7% of overall capacity.
Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, fell by 1.3 million barrels.
Crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub rose by 1.1 million barrels last week, EIA said.
Net U.S. imports of crude were down sharply week, falling by 891,000 bbl/d, a move almost entirely attributed to a surge in crude exports to 3.8 million bbl/d.
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