Oil Futures End Tuesday Mixed

Oil Futures End Tuesday Mixed

WASHINGTON, D.C. (DTN) -- Nearest delivered oil futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange and the Brent contract on the Intercontinental Exchange settled mostly higher Tuesday, with West Texas Intermediate and Brent moving off four-month highs after encountering resistance. Meanwhile supply cuts from Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries joined by a weaker U.S. dollar spurred an overnight rally.

At settlement Nymex April WTI futures were little changed, down $0.06 at $59.03 barrels (bbl), reversing off a $59.57 bbl four-month high on the spot continuation chart after testing retracement resistance at $59.63. May WTI futures ended at a $0.26 bbl premium to the April contract, which expires Wednesday afternoon.

ICE May Brent futures settled up $0.07 at $67.61 bbl, dropping back from a $68.20 fresh four-month high on the spot continuous chart, with retracement resistance at $68.33.

NYMEX April RBOB futures notched a fresh better-than five-month high on the spot chart at $1.8980, settling near the high at $1.8931 gallon for a 1.03 cents gain. Nymex April ULSD futures settled up 2.14 cents at $1.9904 gallon.

Choppy trade for oil futures coincided with choppiness in equities, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average erasing early morning gains in the afternoon, although paring those losses late in the session. WTI futures were lent support from a weaker U.S. dollar, which slid to a three-week low, down 0.16% to 95.831. The dollar's weakness comes alongside the start of a two-day Federal Open Market Committee today. The Federal Reserve is expected to hold the federal funds rate unchanged at 2.5%, and again signal it will be cautious before hiking the rate again. The central bank will also release economic projections Wednesday—the first of four for 2019.

The mixed session comes ahead of weekly data due out this afternoon from the American Petroleum Institute and Wednesday morning by the Energy Information Administration.

Market expectations were mixed between a build and drawdown from commercial crude stocks, with a consensus estimating a 1.0 million bbl increase took place during the week-ended March 15. Products are expected to have declined during the week profiled amid ongoing seasonal refinery maintenance, which will continue into late April, early May. Expectations are for a 2.0 million bbl draw from gasoline stocks and a 1.0 million bbl decline in distillate inventory to have occurred last week.

Liubov Georges can be reached at liubov.georges@dtn.com