Oil Futures Mixed on Likely Crude Build

Liubov Georges
By  Liubov Georges , DTN Energy Reporter

WASHINGTON (DTN) -- Nearest-delivery oil futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange and Intercontinental Exchange moved mixed in afternoon trade Tuesday, with West Texas Intermediate slipping back toward $52 per barrel (bbl) on an expected build in U.S. crude and gasoline supplies during the week ended Jan. 22. Meanwhile, growing uncertainty over the prospect for President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion stimulus proposal further dampened risk-on trade in broader markets.

At settlement, WTI for March delivery edged slightly lower at $52.61 per bbl after falling to an intrasession low of $52.29 per bbl, while the March Brent finished near unchanged at $55.91 bbl. NYMEX February ULSD futures added 0.45 cent to $1.5984 per gallon, and February RBOB futures rallied 1.96 cents to a $1.5807-per-gallon settlement. The Dow Jones Industrial finished Tuesday little changed after rallying to above 31,150 earlier in session, and the S&P 500 ended 0.07% higher. The U.S. dollar index traded sideways for most of the session before falling 0.26% against the basket of foreign currencies to 90.140, although greenback firmness failed to boost either commodity or equity markets.

Oil and equity indexes turned lower Tuesday as investors positioned for a trimmed-down stimulus package in the United States after President Biden suggested he would be open to slice the price tag of the proposed $1.9 trillion deal. Biden's plan hit a roadblock in a 50-50 Senate, with some Republican lawmakers arguing direct payments to Americans must be contingent on income levels so they are targeted to families most in need. The proposal envisioned $1 trillion to be directed toward $1,400 individual checks for the majority of American citizens. Should the plan be approved by the U.S. Congress, the total COVID-19 relief aid in the U.S. would be $5 trillion, lifting U.S. national debt above $30 trillion by the end of the year.

In its latest World Economic Outlook report released Tuesday morning, the International Monetary Fund revised higher its 2021 forecast for U.S. economic growth to 5.1% after tapering expansion to 2.5% in 2022. The upgrade for 2021 mostly reflects the positive effects of the vaccination program that is quickly picking up pace across several U.S. states.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday it had administered 23.5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines. The country is now administering about 1.2 million doses a day, data compiled by Bloomberg showed, placing it behind only Israel and the United Kingdom. President Biden expects coronavirus vaccines will be available to anyone in the nation by spring -- an ambitious target that can be met by accelerating daily inoculations to 1.5 million doses.

Separately, oil traders expect U.S. crude oil stocks to have risen by a marginal 100,000 bbl in the week ended Jan. 22, while gasoline supplies are projected to have built by 1 million bbl from the previous week, according to analysts. Stocks of distillates are expected to fall by 500,000 bbl from the previous week. Refinery use likely declined by 0.5 percentage point to 82% of capacity. The American Petroleum Institute will release its inventory report at 4:30 p.m. EST, followed by official statistics from Energy Information Administration on tap for release at 10:30 a.m. ETS Wednesday.

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

Liubov Georges