Crude Ends the Day Higher

OLD BRIDGE, N.J. (DTN) -- New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX), West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures and Brent crude on the Intercontinental Exchange settled higher as market participants eyed increased refinery runs as a sure sign that demand for crude oil would remain strong, while oil products ended mixed. Reduced crude output from Venezuela and other countries is also buffeting prices, they said.

Despite a pair of industry reports indicating weekly supply advances, June WTI crude settled $0.50 barrel (bbl) higher on the day to close the session at $68.43 bbl. July Brent crude followed suit, finishing $0.26 higher at $73.62 bbl. August Brent closed marginally higher at $73.22 bbl, up $0.28.

Traders say demand for crude remains strong owing to increased refinery runs and trimmed international crude production from countries such as Venezuela and Mexico.

"The sad thing as far as WTI goes is that we've been bouncing back and forth in this range since April 19, even though we're up today," said David Thompson, executive vice president at PowerHouse, a commodity hedge and trade advisory. "We've basically been in this tight range for the last two weeks, but I'm still on the bullish side."

Thompson said he expects to see crude prices break out to the upside soon.

"Until refinery utilization rates decrease, I would expect crude oil demand to stay strong," he said." In term of the next move, if we can get above the $69.50 level for WTI or below $66.50, we'd expect a $3.00 move to the upside or downside."

June RBOB gasoline moved fractionally higher, up $0.0077 to close at $2.0875 gallon, while like-month New York Harbor ultra-low sulfur diesel declined $0.0088 to $2.1127 gallon.

The Energy Information Administration reported Wednesday that U.S. commercial crude stocks rose 6.2 million bbl during the week-ended April 27, a level well above market expectations. Domestic crude production also increased, posting a 33,000 barrels per day (bpd) build to a record high 10.619 million bpd, in sight of EIA's U.S. crude output estimate for 10.7 million bpd this year. The supply build came as refinery crude inputs eased for the fourth consecutive week, down 60,000 bpd to a 16.561 million bpd seven-week low.

Brian Whary can be reached at