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U.S. Crude Inventory Build Sees Oil Prices Fall Once Again

Equity markets are lit up today for Diwali, while bond markets are closed to honor our Veterans. EIA weekly inventories are accordingly delayed until tomorrow due to the government holiday, although last night’s API report has given us a glimpse of what to expect. It yielded a 6.3 million barrel build to crude stockpiles, and a 2.5 million barrel build to gasoline stocks. Distillates provided the most (well, only) supportive influence, with a seasonally typical draw, and at a chunky -3.2 million barrels at that.

China is once again helping to paint a bearish hue across commodityland™, with weak economic data out overnight to put further downward pressure on everything from copper to crude. Copper prices are reaching levels not seen since July 2009, down 20 percent since May, spurred on by slowing demand from the world’s largest consumer. Meanwhile, aluminum prices hover around six-year lows also as Chinese production increases and exports rise 14.4 percent so far this year, adding to oversupply (N.B., China is the world’s largest producer of aluminum). Commodity weakness across the board is pushing indexes down to sixteen-year lows, as dollar strength combines with Chinese weakness: Related:Dividends For Oil Majors No Longer Sacred

Chinese industrial production overnight came in at +5.6 percent (YoY) for October, missing consensus of +5.8 percent, and at the slowest pace of growth since January 2009. Chinese electricity output affirmed this notion of economic slowing, falling for a second consecutive month, down 3.2 percent (YoY) in October. On the upside, retail sales came in at 11.0 percent (YoY) in October, slightly above consensus of 10.9 percent, and the highest level since January. This adds further evidence of the changing balance from an industrial-led economy to a consumer driven one. Related: IEA Bearish On Oil, Bullish On Gas, Fatalistic On Coal

China Industrial Production, percent YoY (source: investing.com)

In other overnight economic data flow, Japanese data continue to be exceedingly negative, with machine tool orders coming in at -23.1 percent (YoY) on its preliminary print for October. Across to Europe, and UK unemployment was slightly better than expected at 5.3 percent, a new seven-year low. In the U.S., we once again see a quiet day.

The crude complex is charging lower after last night’s large API build; the market has an extra day to ruminate on the number before the delayed EIA release tomorrow. We also get the OPEC monthly report tomorrow, while the report from the IEA follows on Friday, hot on the heels of yesterday’s world energy outlook. The dollar is seeing a bit of weakness, but is not supporting crude thus far. Related: The Middle East Could Face A Historic Crisis By Century’s End

As rumors swirl of a new offensive by OPEC to flood the global market, our #ClipperData affirms that U.S. imports from the Arab Gulf have indeed risen in October, up some 18 percent from September to above 1.5 million barrels per day for the first time since June. That said, U.S. imports from the Arab Gulf still remain 20 percent lower than last year’s volumes, as competition remains fierce – predominantly with Latin American flows.

Arab Gulf crude exports to U.S. (source: ClipperData)

By Matt Smith

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