Crude oil is displayed inside a bottle. (Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg)

Oil Slides After Industry Report Shows Surprise U.S. Stock Build

(Bloomberg) -- Oil dipped after an industry group reported crude inventories in the U.S. climbed higher, when analysts were expecting a decline.

Futures in New York edged lower in after-hours trading after the American Petroleum Institute was said to report nationwide crude inventories rose 629,000 barrels last week. Analysts were expecting a 4.1 million-barrel drop in supplies, according to a Bloomberg survey.

“You’d still be expecting declines in crude at this time of year,” said James Williams, president of London, Arkansas-based energy researcher WTRG Economics. “Clearly if the EIA confirms it, it’s going to be put more downward pressure on crude. We could see another buck down or so if that gets confirmed.”

Yet, as the last Energy Information Administration report showed U.S. crude imports dropping for the first time since the beginning of June, it’s likely we might see an increase in imports.

“The import numbers can really skew things an awful lot,” Williams said.

Oil Slides After Industry Report Shows Surprise U.S. Stock Build

Focus also remains on major oil producers including Libya, Saudi Arabia and the U.S. raising output at a time when the U.S.-China trade dispute threatens to dash growth in energy demand.

“There is a potential to be in an oversupplied market where Saudi is going to pump as much as they can,” said Tariq Zahir, a commodity fund manager at Tyche Capital Advisors LLC. “It’s going to take a supply outage for prices to go significantly higher.”

The potential release of crude from America’s emergency stockpile, signs that Saudi Arabia is responding to increased pressure from President Donald Trump to pump more and uncertainty over the timing of a potential drop in Iranian exports due to sanctions mean changes in production will be exacerbated by decisions made in the White House, Goldman said.

Key Technicals

West Texas Intermediate crude for August delivery traded at $67.77 a barrel at 4:39 p.m. after settling at $68.08 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. August WTI options expire Tuesday. Total volume traded was about 5 percent below the 100-day average.

After Brent settled below its 100-day moving average on Monday for the first time since March, WTI is following suit. The U.S. benchmark crude is hovering just above its 100-day moving average. Settlements below these levels are typically seen as bearish.

Brent for September settlement advanced 32 cents to end the session at $72.16 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe Exchange. The global benchmark crude traded at a $5 premium to WTI for the same month.

The Brent market is still showing signs of weakness, with front-month Brent futures trading at a discount to its second-month contract.

The API was also said to report Cushing, Oklahoma, crude supplies fell 1.34 million barrels last week. At the same time, gasoline stockpiles rose 425,000 barrels, while distillate inventories increased 1.71 million.

Supplies at the biggest U.S. pipeline hub in Cushing, Oklahoma, probably fell by 700,000 barrels last week, according to a separate Bloomberg forecast.

Other oil-market news:

  • Gasoline futures added 1.2 percent to settle at $2.0261 a gallon.
  • Atlanta-based Intercontinental Exchange Inc., known as ICE, plans to launch a futures contract for the delivery of West Texas crude in Houston.
  • Russia raised production to 11.22 million barrels a day in the first half of this month, 273,000 barrels a day more than the level it agreed on with OPEC in 2016, Interfax reported.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.