WASHINGTON (DTN) -- Oil futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange were mixed in early afternoon trade Wednesday, with some weakness developing in the front-month ULSD contract, though federal data reported another weekly drop in distillate supplies and a smaller-than-expected build in nationwide crude stocks as refiners ramped out run rates.
Near 12:15 p.m. EST, NYMEX March West Texas Intermediate futures traded up $0.43 at $53.72 barrel (bbl) after having traded as high as $51.73 bbl earlier, while Intercontinental Exchange April Brent advanced $0.45 to $59.55 bbl.
NYMEX March ULSD futures declined 0.44 cents to $1.7024 gallon and front-month RBOB futures edged up 0.18 cents to $1.6651 per gallon.
Oil futures failed to hold earlier gains after the U.S. Energy Information reported a fourth consecutive weekly build in nationwide crude supplies during the week ended Feb. 14. Even as the crude build reported was nearly four times smaller than market expectations and product stockpiles posted another weekly drop, traders seemed to take a breather from an earlier rally and weakness began to develop in front-month ULSD futures.
Distillate fuel inventories fell for a fifth straight week, though the draw was smaller than recent weeks. Stocks fell 634,992 bbl to 140.6 million bbl, a six-week low while 1.4% higher than the corresponding week in 2019. Supplies are about 4% below the five-year average for this time of the year. Implied demand for distillates continued lower, down 92,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 3.728 million bpd as of Feb. 14, about 12% lower than the same week in 2019.
Federal data reported domestic crude stocks increased by 415,008 million bbl last week, contrary to a reported 4.16 million bbl build by the American Petroleum Institute for the same week. At 442.9 million bbl, EIA data shows U.S. commercial crude supply at a fresh nine-week high and nearly 2% below the five-year average for this time of the year.
At the key Cushing supply depot in Oklahoma, the delivery location for the New York Mercantile Exchange West Texas Intermediate futures contract, crude stocks declined for the first time in four weeks, down 133,000 bbl to 38.243 million bbl.
The smaller-than-expected crude build was realized as domestic refiners increased crude throughputs 190,000 bpd from the previous week to 16.2 million bpd, while 3.2% higher than year earlier. EIA reported domestic refineries ran at 89.4% of their operable capacity last week, up from 88.0% the week prior.
Agency data showed U.S. crude oil imports declined 431,000 bpd from the previous week to average 6.5 million bbl, while exports increased 594,000 bpd to 3.567 million bpd on week.
EIA reported gasoline inventories declined a third consecutive week, down 2.0 million bbl to 259.1 million bbl, about 3% more than the five-year average. Data showed implied gasoline demand increased 196,000 bpd to 8.918 million bpd in the week profiled, 1.3% more than the corresponding week in 2019. For the four weeks ended Feb. 14, implied gasoline demand at 8.841 million bpd was 2.0% less than the corresponding four-week period last year.
Total commercial petroleum inventories decreased 1.0 million bbl last week, data shows. Total products supplied over the last four-week period averaged 20.3 million bpd, down 1.8% from the same period a year earlier.
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