Oil prices ticked up today, after the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported a crude oil inventory draw of 7.5 million barrels for the week to March 21.
This compared with a relatively modest inventory build of 1.1 million barrels for the previous week.
At 473.7 million barrels, the EIA said, crude oil inventories are 6 percent above the five-year average for this time of the year.
In fuels, meanwhile, the authority estimated a mixed inventory picture, after last week major draws in both gasoline and middle distillates pushed oil prices higher.
Gasoline inventories fell by 2.9 million barrels in the reported period, which compared with a draw of 6.4 million barrels for the previous week.
Gasoline production stood at an average 10 million barrels daily last week, compared with 9.5 million barrels daily for the previous week.
In middle distillates, the EIA reported an inventory increase of 300,000 barrels for the week to March 21. This compared with a draw of 3.3 million barrels for the previous week.
Middle distillate production averaged 4.6 million barrels daily, which compared with 4.5 million barrels daily a week earlier.
Oil prices, meanwhile, have been on the rise since the start of the week, following the shut-in of some 400,000 barrels in daily exports from Iraq’s Kurdistan region amid a dispute between the region’s government and Baghdad about control over these exports.
“Supply concerns continue to support oil prices,” Warren Patterson, head of commodities strategy at ING, told Bloomberg. “Market attention will increasingly turn to OPEC+ with next week’s JMMC meeting.”
In more good news for oil bulls, the acquisition of failed Silicon Valley Bank by First Citizens, announced on Monday, served to quench fears of a banking meltdown and a recession.
"Concerns over banking issues have subsided for now in temporarily relieving expectations for a recession," Jim Ritterbusch from Ritterbusch and Associates told Reuters.
At the time of writing, Brent crude was trading at $79.50 per barrel and West Texas Intermediate was changing hands for $73.96 per barrel, both up from opening.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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