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Oil Prices Rise Above $50 On Smaller Than Expected Crude Inventory Build

The American Petroleum Institute (API) estimated on Tuesday a smaller than anticipated crude oil inventory build of 1.3 million barrels for the week ending February 21, compared to analyst expectations of a 2.467-million-barrel build in inventory.

In the previous week, the API estimated a larger than expected build in crude oil inventories of 4.16-million barrels, while the EIA’s estimates were more bullish, reporting a small build of 400,000 barrels for the week.

Oil prices were trading down on Tuesday in the hours leading up to the data release, with the markets renewing their fears that the coronavirus outbreak is not yet contained—to the contrary, the virus is claiming lives in countries outside China as well, and more travel restrictions have been added as countries try to keep the virus out. Meanwhile, OPEC has not responded to the crisis with more output cuts, as Russia continues to drag its feet.

As the coronavirus panic sets in, it is unclear just how much of an affect these weekly inventory moves will have on prices.

At 1:45 pm EST on Tuesday the WTI benchmark was trading down on the day by $1.29 (-2.51%) at $50.14—down more than $3 per barrel week on week. The price of a Brent barrel was also trading down on Tuesday, by $1.34 (-2.40%), at $54.43—up more than $4 week on week.

The API this week also reported a small build of 74,000 barrels of gasoline for week ending February 21, after last week’s 2.67-million-barrel draw. This week’s small build compares to analyst expectations for a 2.245-barrel-draw for the week.

Distillate inventories were down by 706,000 barrels for the week, compared to last week’s 2.63-million-barrel draw, while Cushing inventories rose by 411,000 barrels.

US crude oil production as estimated by the Energy Information Administration showed that production for the week ending February 14 held fast at its all-time high of 13.0 million bpd.

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At 4:43 pm EDT, WTI was trading at $49.84, while Brent was trading at $54.10.

By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com

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