CRANBURY, N.J. (DTN) -- New York Mercantile Exchange oil futures nearest delivery and Intercontinental Exchange Brent futures settled the pre-holiday session mixed. West Texas Intermediate, Brent and RBOB posted gains, while the ULSD contract slid to a fresh 7-1/2-month low despite an Arctic blast taking aim at the U.S. Northeast.
NYMEX January WTI futures settled up $1.20 at $54.63 per barrel (bbl), and the ICE January Brent contract gained $0.95 to a $63.48 bbl settlement, yet despite the hefty gains were held to inside trade, with the contracts on Tuesday plunging to lows last traded in the fourth quarter 2017.
NYMEX December RBOB futures also consolidated within Tuesday's trade range, gaining 1.48 cents off a 16—month spot low settlement to end today's session at $1.5107 gallon.
NYMEX December ULSD futures settled down 2.0 cents at $1.9702 gallon, the lowest settlement on the spot continuous chart since early April, after the Energy Information Administration reported a 363,000 barrel-per-day (bpd) decline in implied demand to 4.27 million bpd. Still, distillate demand is up a sharp 385,000 bpd, or 9.6%, during the four weeks ended Nov. 16 against the comparable year-ago period at 4.412 million bpd.
The decline in ULSD futures coincided with EIA data reporting days of forward distillate supply at the lowest point in five years at 27.0 days. Meanwhile, below-normal temperatures are being served Thanksgiving Day in the Northeast, where the largest concentration of heating oil demand is situated. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center shows below normal temperatures persisting in the Northeast through Dec. 14.
Gasoline stocks did register a 1.3 million bbl draw to 225.3 million bbl during the week ended Nov. 16, according to Wednesday's EIA data. However, at 225.3 million bbl, gasoline stocks are 14.8 million bbl more than a year ago while implied gasoline demand for the four weeks ended Nov. 16 at 9.185 million bpd is down 246,000 bpd, or 2.6%, against the comparable year-ago period.
Wednesday's trading action appears devoid in providing forward direction for oil futures, which have been under heavy selling pressure through most of the fourth quarter on sharply higher global oil production and concern over world economic growth and knock-on effect to oil demand.
Brian L. Milne can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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