WASHINGTON (DTN) -- Oil futures nearest delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange reversed higher in late morning trade Wednesday despite weekly inventory data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) showing U.S. commercial crude and gasoline inventories increased above consensus during the week ended Jan. 14 as domestic refiners scaled back crude throughputs amid still sluggish demand for motor gasoline.
U.S. commercial crude oil inventories increased for the first time in eight weeks during the period ended Jan. 14, rising 515,000 barrels (bbl) to 413.8 million bbl, the EIA said in its weekly report, although stocks are still about 8% below the five-year average. Markets mostly expected crude stockpiles would fall by 800,000 bbl from the prior week.
Oil stored at the Cushing, Oklahoma, hub, the delivery point for West Texas Intermediate futures, fell 1.3 million bbl to 33.5 million bbl.
U.S. crude oil production remained unchanged from the previous week at 11.7 million barrels per day (bpd), still some 1.3 million bpd below the pre-pandemic level. The crude build was realized as domestic refiners reduced run rates by 0.3% last week to 88.1%, processing 120,000 bpd less crude compared to the previous week.
Gasoline stockpiles once again posted a hefty build, climbing 5.9 million bbl in the reviewed week to 246.6 million bbl compared with expectations for inventories to have increased by 2.1 million bbl. Demand for motor gasoline, meanwhile, reversed off an 11-month low 7.906 million bpd during the second week of January, gaining 4% or 318,000 bpd last week.
Distillate stocks fell 1.4 million bbl to 128 million bbl, and are now about 16% below the five-year average, the EIA said. Analysts expected distillate inventories would fall 700,000 bbl from the previous week. Demand for distillate fuel surged 807,000 bpd during the reviewed week to 4.556 million bpd.
EIA data was directionally in line with DTN Refined Fuels Demand data that found U.S. gasoline demand up 7.8% year-on-year for the week profiled but down 2.9% from the same week in 2020. Total U.S. diesel demand was up 5.6% year-on-year for the week and up 6% from the same week in 2020.
Around noon New York time, February West Texas Intermediate futures gained $0.19 to trade near $87.15 bbl. NYMEX February RBOB futures surged 1.55 cents to $2.4725 gallon, with the front-month ULSD futures declining more than 2 cents to $2.6715 gallon.
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