Oil Advances Ahead of Supply Data

NEW YORK (DTN) -- New York Mercantile Exchange oil futures moved higher Wednesday morning as traders recalibrate their estimates on domestic oil supply ahead of the release at 9:30 a.m. CT of weekly data from the Energy Information Administration.

It comes a day after the American Petroleum Institute reported late Tuesday that U.S. crude stockpiles fell 3.6 million barrel during the week ended Dec. 18 while the market expected an average build of 300,000 bbl.

API also said gasoline supply rose 3.1 million bbl, surpassing an expected rise of 2.5 million bbl. Distillate inventories increased 763,000 bbl, the trade group said, falling short of a projected build of 2.3 million bbl.

At 8 a.m. CT, NYMEX February West Texas Intermediate crude rose 58 cents to $36.72 bbl and have since posted a one-week spot high at $37.08. The ICE February Brent futures contract advanced 59 cents to $36.70 bbl, off a three-day high of $36.91.

In products trade, the NYMEX January ULSD futures contract rose 1.88 cents to $1.1064 gallon, while January RBOB futures climbed 2.91 cents to $1.2040 gallon.

On Wall Street, major U.S. equity indices rose 0.3% for the third straight day Wednesday morning, part of what analysts call a Santa Claus rally, with the dollar also higher.

The oil futures complex was also boosted by a report from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries that suggests the cartel is being challenged by competition from non-OPEC producers such as the United States, Canada and Russia.

In its annual long-term World Oil Outlook report released this morning, OPEC forecasts its share of world crude production at 30.7 million bpd or 31.5% in 2020, down from a 33.0% share in 2013, and much lower than its 31.7 million bpd output rate last month.

The oil futures complex has been bearish and volatile recently, with concern over excess global supply pressing down ICE Brent futures to an 11-year low on Tuesday while WTI fell to a seven-year low on Monday.

Trade volume is thin as most traders have closed their books on 2015 trade ahead of the long Christmas holiday weekend. The market will close early Thursday and remain closed on Friday for Christmas.

George Orwel can be reached at george.orwel@telventdtn.com