Oil Rallies on Draghi Comments

NEW YORK (DTN) -- New York Mercantile Exchange oil futures continued to gain late Thursday morning on unexpected dovish comments from European Central Bank President Mario Draghi that raised the prospects of further stimulus measures in March.

The Draghi comments overshadowed bearish weekly supply data out today from the Energy Information Administration and released Wednesday from the American Petroleum Institute.

The comments triggered a broad-based relief rally, but analysts remained skeptical over its durability given weak oil market fundamentals that have been reprised by the latest data showing building oil inventories in the United States.

Near 10:15 a.m. CT, the NYMEX March West Texas Intermediate crude futures contract was up 83 cents at $29.18 barrel, near a two-day high of $29.41, and well above Wednesday's $26.19 bbl 12-1/2 year spot low. ICE March Brent futures climbed 83 cents to $28.71 bbl after trading Wednesday at a $27.10 bbl better-than 12-year low on the spot continuation chart.

NYMEX February ULSD futures surged 2.64 cents to $0.8921 gallon, reversing off a 12-year low on the spot continuation chart of $0.8487. The February RBOB futures contract rose 1.88 cents to $1.0365 gallon after having bounced off a $1.005 seven-year spot low on Tuesday.

EIA reported midmorning that crude stockpiles increased 4.0 million bbl during the week-ended Jan. 15, surpassing an expected stock build of 2.7 million bbl.

For products, EIA reported gasoline stockpiles increased 4.6 million bbl, doubling the projected build of 2.2 million bbl. Distillate stocks declined 1.0 million bbl while the market expected a 1.3 million bbl increase. Demand rose for gasoline and distillates.

API's data released Wednesday showed a 4.6 million bbl increase for crude stocks, a 4.7 million bbl build for gasoline and a 1.5 million bbl rise in distillate stocks.

Mario Draghi said the ECB would consider implementing more stimulus measures at its next meeting on March 10 because of deteriorating economic conditions.

The stock market on Wall Street rose with oil futures while the euro fell after those comments.

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