Crude futures steady after fall on US oil products stocks gain

US crude inventories fell 3.1 million barrels, the Energy Information Administration said. Above, a crew member raises a pipe onto the drilling rig floor of an oil rig in the Permian Basin near Wink, Texas. (Reuters)
Updated 18 July 2019

Crude futures steady after fall on US oil products stocks gain

  • Oil prices have fallen this week as worries over a Middle East conflict have eased
  • US crude inventories fell 3.1 million barrels, the US Energy Information Administration said

TOKYO: Oil prices steadied on Thursday after falling in the previous session when official data showed US stockpiles of products like gasoline rose sharply last week, suggesting weak demand during the peak driving season.
Brent crude futures were up 13 cents, or 0.2 percent, at $63.80 a barrel by 0237 GMT. They fell 1.1 percent on Wednesday.
US West Texas Intermediate crude futures were down 1 cent at $56.77. The US benchmark dropped 1.5 percent in the previous session.
Oil prices have fallen this week as worries over a Middle East conflict have eased, oil production in the Gulf of Mexico has resumed after a storm and worries have emerged over Chinese economic growth. The “easing of tensions between the US and Iran, mixed Chinese growth data and storm-hit operations getting back online are all pressuring oil prices downward,” said Alfonso Esparza senior market analyst at OANDA.
Japan’s exports fell for a seventh straight month in June, with shipments to China falling more than 10 percent, while Japanese manufacturers’ business confidence fell to a three-year low.
On the oil supply front, data on Wednesday from the US Energy Information Administration showed a larger-than-expected drawdown in crude stockpiles last week, but traders focused on large builds in refined product inventories dragging prices down.
US crude inventories fell 3.1 million barrels, the EIA said, more than analysts’ forecasts for a decrease of 2.7 million barrels.
However, gasoline stocks rose 3.6 million barrels, compared with analysts’ expectations in a Reuters poll for a 925,000-barrel drop. Distillate stockpiles grew by 5.7 million barrels, much more than expectations for a 613,000-barrel increase, the EIA data showed.
“Gasoline consumption is painfully weak given US consumers are in peak driving season,” said Stephen Innes, managing partner at Vanguard Markets.
Crude production was disrupted last week by Storm Barry, which came ashore on Saturday in central Louisiana as a Category 1 hurricane, the first major storm to hit the US Gulf of Mexico this season.
More than half of daily crude production in the Gulf of Mexico remained offline by Tuesday, as most oil companies were re-staffing facilities to resume production.
The market shrugged of another incident involving a tanker in the Middle East amid tensions between the United States and Iran.
US officials say they are unsure whether an oil tanker towed into Iranian waters was seized by Iran or rescued after facing mechanical faults as Tehran asserts, creating a mystery at a time of high tension in the Middle East.


Report: 2 Iranian lawmakers arrested for ‘disrupting’ market

Updated 6 min 14 sec ago

Report: 2 Iranian lawmakers arrested for ‘disrupting’ market

  • The report did not reveal if they have been charged with any financial crimes
  • Iran arrested several people since 2018 on corruption charges

TEHRAN: Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency says two lawmakers have been arrested for unspecified actions described as “disrupting” the country’s car market.
The report says the two lawmakers — Fereydoun Ahmadi and Mohammad Azizi — were initially taken to the Evin prison in Tehran but they were later released for about $85,000 in bail.
The report didn’t specify if the two have been charged with any financial crimes.
Iran is trying to crack down on corruption and has arrested several persons since 2018. Two prominent local businessmen have been hanged.
Iran’s economy nosedived since the US pullout from the nuclear deal last year. Prices of cars have skyrocketed as Western manufacturers pull out of the country and foreign-produced parts are becoming harder to find. China is trying to fill the void.