London — U.S. crude oil stockpiles rose, while gasoline inventories fell, in a signal of steady demand for fuel, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.
Crude inventories rose by 3.6 million barrels in the week to July 30 to 439.2 million barrels, compared with analysts’ expectations in a Reuters poll for a 3.1 million-barrel drop.
Stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub for U.S. crude futures, however, fell for an eighth straight week, dropping by 543,000 barrels to 34.9 million barrels, their lowest since January 2020, the EIA said.
Gasoline stocks fell by 5.3 million barrels, the EIA said, far more than expectations for a 1.8 million-barrel drop.
Overall product supplied remained high, which analysts suggested was for now a signal that U.S. demand for fuel was weathering the increase in coronavirus infections.
Overall product supplied by refiners, a proxy for demand, rose to 20.5 million barrels per day over the last four weeks, which is comparable to pre-pandemic levels.
“Despite concern about the (coronavirus) Delta variant, we are not seeing it impacting U.S. product demand in a large way. I think overall that can be viewed as supportive,” said Tony Headrick, energy market analyst at CHS Hedging.
Analysts said they would watch to see if refining activity or fuel demand is affected by the increased infection rate both in the United States and worldwide.
Oil prices briefly dipped after the news, but recovered to pre-report levels, though still down on the day. U.S. crude fell $1.47 a barrel, or 2.1%, to $69.09 a barrel as of 10:52 a.m. EDT (1452 GMT), and Brent lost 1.6% to $71.22 a barrel.
Refinery crude runs rose by 45,000 bpd in the last week, the EIA said. Refinery utilization rates inched up by 0.2 percentage point.
Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, rose by 833,000 barrels, versus expectations for a 543,000-barrel drop.
Net U.S. crude imports rose last week by 510,000 bpd.
*David Gaffen and Laura Sanicola, Editing: Marguerita Choy – Reuters
This article was originally posted at sweetcrudereports.com