Oil Futures Lower Ahead of EIA Report

NEW YORK (DTN) -- New York Mercantile Exchange oil futures edged lower Wednesday morning as the market consolidated ahead of an oil report by the Energy Information Administration due out at 10:30 a.m. EST. A firmer dollar underpinned the oil futures' downside as well.

The oil futures complex was under pressure overnight after the American Petroleum Institute reported unexpected stock builds in U.S. crude oil and middle distillate fuels late Tuesday.

The API report for the week-ended Nov. 24 showed crude oil inventories increased by 1.8 million barrels (bbl), distillate stocks surged 2.7 million bbl and gasoline stocks were drawn down by 1.5 million bbl.

The market expected stock draws of 3.75 million bbl for crude oil, 1.25 million bbl each for gasoline and distillates.

The market is also focusing on Thursday's meeting by the Organization of the Petroleum of Exporting Countries and their non-OPEC producer partners. Representatives from the 24 nations are gathering in Vienna to review market conditions and consider extending the current 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) in supply cutbacks.

On Tuesday, OPEC sources told Reuters that a joint technical committee of OPEC and non-OPEC recommended extending the cuts until the end of 2018, with an option to review the supply deal at the next OPEC meeting in June.

Since the planned extension of production cuts is already built into the current oil price, there is a chance investors who recently added net-long speculative positions in oil futures would take profits in the aftermarket of any announcement out of Vienna, said analysts.

In early trade, NYMEX January West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures were 18 cents lower at $57.81 bbl. January Brent crude eased by 14 cents to $63.47 bbl on the Intercontinental Exchange in front of its expiration Thursday, Nov. 30. The February Brent contract was 21 cents lower at $63.03 bbl.

In products trade, NYMEX December ULSD futures eased 0.89 cent to $1.9418 gallon, with January contract down 0.91 cent at $1.9438 gallon. December RBOB futures slid 0.20 cent to $1.77 gallon, with January contract down 0.19 cent to $1.7667 gallon. The December RBOB and ULSD contracts will also expire on Thursday.

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