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API: Drop in US Crude Oil Stocks, But Surprise Gasoline Build

Oil Tanker Offloading

U.S. crude oil inventories are down just over 1 million barrels for the week ended 12 August, according to the weekly American Petroleum Institute (API) report, but U.S. gasoline inventories are up over 2 million barrels in the biggest increase in six months.

Cushing crude inventories were down 680,000 barrels.

Earlier today, crude oil rallied to a one-month high, but slid back down following the release of the API data. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for September delivery closed at US$46.58 on the New York Mercantile Exchange, but was down to US$46.41 in electronic trading at the time of writing.

Analysts expectations, as carried by S&P Global Platts, were for a 200,000-barrel drawdown on U.S. crude oil inventories, with the API figures coming at roughly half that. But for gas, the API figures were unexpected. Analysts were tapping a 1.8-million-barrel drop in gasoline inventories, while the API is showing a nearly 2.2-million-barrel increase. Distillates were also up significantly over the week, with the API data showing a 2.4-million-barrel build.

This should contribute to further market volatility, though Zero Hedge notes that oil is primarily tracking the dollar right now and not paying as much attention to its own fundamentals.

More attention will be on the official inventory data coming tomorrow at 10:30am (EST) from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), which could contradict API data, as has been a recent trend.

Last week, the API reported the opposite—the biggest crude oil inventory build in three months, and a draw on gasoline stocks. That API report had crude inventories up 2.09 million barrels, and gasoline stockpiles down 3.9 million barrels, with distillates at a 1.5-million barrel draw.

The EIA last week reported a 1.1-million-barrel rise in commercial crude oil inventories for the week to August 5, with the total reaching 523.6 million barrels. The week before that also saw a 1.4-million-barrel build.

The API data should be good news for oil prices, but the surprise gasoline and distillates build skews the picture.

By Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com

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