WASHINGTON (DTN) -- New York Mercantile Exchange oil futures continued higher in post-inventory trade Wednesday, lifting prompt-month West Texas Intermediate contract to above $56 barrel (bbl) after federal data reported U.S. commercial crude oil inventories fell sharply during the week ended Jan. 29. However, gasoline supplies increased more than expected and demand for motor fuel remained at depressed levels.
Near 11:30 a.m. EST, West Texas Intermediate futures for March delivery climbed $1.34 to trade just above $56 bbl, with the prompt-month Brent contract advancing a like amount to trade at $58.76 bbl. NYMEX March ULSD futures added 2.33 cents to $1.6978 gallon, with front-month RBOB futures rallying 3.78 cents to $1.6539 a gallon.
The Energy Information Administration said Wednesday morning U.S. commercial crude supplies declined 994,016 bbl from the previous week to 475.7 million bbl -- the lowest inventories on hand since late March 2020. Although the decline was less than reported earlier by the American Petroleum Institute, it still exceeded market calls for a modest draw of 300,000 bbl. Domestic crude oil inventories narrowed surplus against five-year average to 4%, while still 9% above the year ago levels.
The draw was realized even as crude oil imports jumped by 1.1443 million bbl from the previous week to above 6 million bbl and refiners increased run rates to 82.6%, up 0.6% on week.
Oil stocks at Cushing, Oklahoma, the delivery point for West Texas Intermediate, fell by 1.5 million bbl from the previous week, to 48.7 million barrels, while domestic production remained unchanged at 10.9 million barrels per day (bpd).
Gasoline stockpiles increased by 4.5 million bbl from the previous week to 252.2 million bbl, compared with analysts' expectations for a 900,000 bbl increase. Demand for motor gasoline fell 63,000 bpd to 7.7 million bpd, down nearly 11% from last year's levels.
Distillate stocks remained virtually unchanged at 162.8 million bbl, still about 8% above the five-year average, the EIA said. Earlier in the week, analysts had forecast distillate supplies would fall by 600,000 bbl from the previous week. Demand for distillates reversed lower by 102,000 bpd to 4.198 million bpd, but still 11% above the comparable week a year ago.
Total products supplied over the last four-week period averaged 19.4 million bpd, down by 4.3% from the same period last year.
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