Oil Prices Extend Losses on Swelling U.S. Stocks

03/01/18 06:39 AM EST
By Sarah McFarlane 

Oil prices edged lower Thursday, extending losses after data showed a higher-than-expected rise in U.S. crude and gasoline stocks.

Brent crude, the global oil benchmark, fell 0.9% to $64.18 a barrel on London's ICE Futures exchange. On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate futures were trading down 0.9% at $61.10 a barrel.

Crude oil stocks rose by 3 million barrels last week, while gasoline inventories rose 2.5 million barrels, the Energy Information Administration's weekly report published Wednesday showed.

"The weekly stock report was anything but positive," said Tamas Varga, analyst at brokerage PVM.

The rise in gasoline stocks was counter-seasonal as fuel inventories don't typically build during the ongoing refinery maintenance period.

"Refinery utilization is still low, so we should see lower stocks, but there is not yet strong demand," said Ehsan Ul-Haq, director for crude oil and refined products at Resource Economist Ltd, adding that gasoline imports were also low.

Gasoline demand typically starts to pick up ahead of the U.S. driving season, which starts on Memorial Day on May 28.

Oil prices were also pressured by EIA data showing weekly U.S. production hit a fresh high of 10.283 million barrels a day.

The International Energy Agency expects the U.S. to eclipse Russia by 2019 as the world's biggest crude producer with the shale oil boom continuing to boost output.

Coordinated efforts by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other major producers including Russia to cut production and counter the rise in output from countries including the U.S helped underpin prices.

"The tug-of-war between OPEC and its peers and U.S. shale producers continues," PVM's Mr. Varga said.

Nymex reformulated gasoline blendstock -- the benchmark gasoline contract -- fell 0.5% to $1.92 a gallon. ICE gasoil changed hands at $566.75 a metric ton, down $10.25 from the previous settlement.

Write to Sarah McFarlane at sarah.mcfarlane@wsj.com


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

March 01, 2018 06:39 ET (11:39 GMT)

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