Oil Rallies in Midday Trade

NEW YORK (DTN) -- New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) spot-month oil futures rallied Thursday after the Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported stock draws for crude oil and distillate in the United States during the week ended Feb. 16, with a build in gasoline below expectations.

EIA detailed a 1.6 million barrel (bbl) decline in commercial crude inventories to 420.5 million bbl, a 2.4 million bbl drawdown for distillates, and a 261,000 bbl build in gasoline supply to 249.3 million bbl for the week reviewed.

The weekly stock changes coincided with a 1.7% decline in refinery runs to 88.1% of operable capacity.

At the Cushing supply hub in Oklahoma, the delivery point for West Texas Intermediate futures, crude stocks fell for a ninth straight week, down by about 2.7 million bbl that was more than an expected decline of 2.0 million bbl. Crude production was little changed at 10.27 million bbl.

Analysts were mixed on their crude estimates, with gasoline stocks expected to have declined by 2.0 million bbl and distillates seen to have increased by 500,000 bbl.

On Wednesday, the American Petroleum Institute (API) showed crude stocks declined about 900,000 bbl, with Cushing stocks down 2.6 million bbl last week. API said gasoline supply increased 1.47 million bbl while distillate fuel supply tumbled 3.56 million bbl.

At 11:30 a.m. ET, NYMEX April West Texas Intermediate crude futures were $1.07 higher at $62.75 bbl while ICE April Brent crude futures were 91 cents higher at $66.33 bbl. NYMEX March RBOB futures edged up 1.38 cents at $1.7711 gallon and March ULSD futures was 2.08 cents higher at $1.9531 gallon.

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