Crude oil prices fell today after the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported a crude oil inventory build of 7.6 million barrels for the week to February 17.
This compared with a weekly build of 16.3 million barrels reported for the previous week, but since the size of the build was the result of data adjustment than an actual accumulation of crude in storage, the market largely shrugged it off.
At 479 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are above the five-year average for this time of the year.
In gasoline, the EIA estimated an inventory decline of 1.9 million barrels for the week to February 17, with production averaging 9.4 million barrels daily.
This compared with an inventory build of 2.3 million barrels for the previous week, when production averaged 9.1 million barrels daily.
In middle distillates the Energy Information Administration estimated an inventory build of 2.7 million barrels for last week, with production at 4.7 million barrels daily.
These figures compared with an inventory draw of 1.3 million barrels for the previous week, and production averaging 4.5 million bpd.
Refineries processed 15 million bpd of crude last week, a slight decline on the previous week.
At the time of writing crude oil prices were trending up, with both Brent crude and WTI up by over 2 percent, reversing a decline that began earlier in the week on expectations that the Fed will continue raising interest rates, as the U.S. central banks has indicated repeatedly.
More rate hikes are seen as bearish for oil demand as rate hikes suggest weaknesses in the economy.
Meanwhile, analysts expect China’s demand for oil to pick up and lead to record imports this year, which has curbed the decline in oil prices. According to several large energy consultancies, China’s imports could surge by between 500,000 bpd and 1 million bpd this year, reaching 11.8 million barrels daily.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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