Oil Up Ahead of EIA Data

NEW YORK (DTN) -- New York Mercantile Exchange oil futures continued higher at the start of regular trade Thursday morning in front of data from Energy Information Administration that's expected to show stock draws for crude oil and gasoline during the week-ended Sept. 2, with a weaker dollar and signs of strong demand adding to the rally.

EIA's inventory report profiling last week, delayed by a day due to the observance of Labor Day holiday on Monday, is due out at 11:00 AM ET. It follows the American Petroleum Institute's data released late Wednesday that showed commercial crude oil stocks plunged 12.1 million bbl last week. That's well above the 1.2 million bbl decline the market expected. The data reflects supply disruptions caused by storms that limited production in the Gulf of Mexico and impaired loading of imported oil, said analysts.

API also said U.S. gasoline stocks declined 2.3 million bbl, more than an expected 300,000 bbl draw, while distillate stocks rose 900,000 bbl during the week, near an expected 1.0 million bbl build.

China issued data overnight that showed crude oil imports to the world's second biggest consuming nation declined 5.9% month-over-month in August but jumped 20% year-over-year to 7.72 million bpd. Barclays Capital said the data shows the highest pace of crude imports since April and suggests strong demand.

At 9:00 AM ET, NYMEX October West Texas Intermediate crude futures advanced 82cts to $46.32 bbl, near a two-day high of $46.58. November Brent on the IntercontinentalExchange was up 72cts at a $48.70 bbl, near a $48.94 three-day high.

In products trade, NYMEX October ULSD futures climbed 1.93cts to $1.4458 gallon, edging off a two-day high at $1.4558. NYMEX October RBOB futures climbed 3.10cts to $1.3774 gallon, near a one-week high of $1.3860.

Early Wednesday afternoon, the EIA raised its global oil demand estimates for this year and in 2017 due to growth in developing countries. The agency, in its September Short-term Energy Outlook, said it expects global oil consumption to grow at the rate of 1.5 million bpd this year to 95.357 million bpd, revised up 49,000 bpd versus estimates published last month. For 2017, annual oil consumption growth is estimated at 1.4 million bpd to 96.780 million bpd, the agency added, up 24,000 bpd versus estimates published a month ago.

Oil futures have also been supported by hope the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries would take action to stabilize oil prices. OPEC will hold informal talks on the sidelines of the International Energy Forum Sept. 26-28 in Algeria to discuss freezing production.

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