Oil Futures Lower Ahead of EIA Data

NEW YORK (DTN) -- New York Mercantile Exchange spot-month oil futures moved lower again Wednesday morning as traders recalibrated ahead of the release of weekly petroleum data due out at 10:30 a.m. EST from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The oil futures complex extended Tuesday's profit-taking into overnight trade after the American Petroleum Institute issued a report that was viewed as bearish on crude and gasoline, with data showing China's oil imports slowed last month exerting downward pressure on the complex.

The API report issued late Tuesday showed crude oil stockpiles were drawn down by a less-than-expected 1.56 million barrels (bbl), with crude supply at Cushing delivery point in Oklahoma, rising 812,000 bbl during the week-ended Nov. 3.

On products, the API reported gasoline supply unexpectedly surged by 520,000 bbl while distillate fuel inventories declined by a more-than-expected 3.13 million bbl.

The market will focus EIA's data on domestic crude production after last week's oil rigs data from Baker Hughes, Inc. showed the number of active oil rigs dropped by eight to a better than five-month low of 729.

There has been some concern that a continued increase in domestic crude production could undermine efforts by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to reduce global surplus.

Still, the market continues to expect OPEC and 10 non-OPEC producers to extend their agreement to cut production by 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) by nine more months through the end of 2018, an issue that has supported oil prices in recent weeks. The current supply deal is set to end in March 2018.

In addition, the recent anticorruption purge in Saudi Arabia added to tensions in the oil-rich Middle East region, adding a premium to oil prices.

In China, trade data for October showed oil imports fell to a rate of 7.3 million bpd in October, down from about 9.0 million bpd in September.

In early trade, NYMEX December West Texas Intermediate crude futures declined 22 cents to $56.98 bbl and January Brent on the Intercontinental Exchange was 30 cents lower at $63.39 bbl.

In arbitrage trade, the Brent premium over WTI at $6.41 bbl was down 8 cents from the close on Tuesday, with a wider arbitrage supporting U.S. crude exports.

NYMEX December ULSD futures eased 0.96 cent to $1.9123 gallon while the December RBOB futures contract slipped 0.56 cent to $1.8097 gallon.

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