Oil on Renewed 5-Day Rally after Surprise U.S. Crude Stocks Drop By

© Reuters.

(updates throughout, with market settlements)

By Barani Krishnan – Oil prices rose to finish Wednesday’s session with a new five-day winning streak after U.S. crude stockpiles unexpectedly fell in the latest week, giving energy bulls yet another reason to bid up markets in the space.

U.S. crude’s benchmark settled up 98 cents, or 1.2%, at $83.42 per barrel. It earlier hit session high of $83.47, which marked a new seven-year peak.

London-traded crude, the global benchmark for oil, finished Wednesday’s trade up 74 cents, or 0.9%, at $85.82. It rose to $85.88 earlier, falling short of the three-year high of $86.04 hit in the previous session.

WTI and Brent had opened Wednesday’s trade down on concerns about China’s planned intervention in the energy markets to tame soaring coal prices.

The run-up later was fueled by weekly inventory data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration that showed declined by 431,000 barrels in the week to Oct. 15, compared with analysts’ expectations for a build of 1.857 million barrels.

It was the first time in a month that the EIA had reported a weekly growth in crude stocks after three previous weeks of back-to-back builds that added about 13 million barrels to inventories.

Crude wasn’t the only component of the report to register declines. 

fell by 5.368 million barrels, the EIA said, compared with expectations for a draw of 1.267 million barrels.

Stockpiles of , which include diesel and , slid by 3.913 million barrels in the week against expectations for a draw of 700,000 barrels, the inventory report showed.

“The report was solidly bullish, due to the across-the-board inventory declines in the main categories,” said John Kilduff, founding partner at Again Capital, an energy hedge fund in New York. “Refined product demand remains robust, especially for gasoline, which is exceedingly strong.”

Lower crude imports appeared to have contributed to the thinner crude balance sheet, as the United States shipped in nearly 170,000 barrels per day less than the previous week to Oct. 8, or a total of 1.2 million barrels lower.

There was also a 500,000-barrels per day uptick in exports of crude, accounting for 3.5 million barrels over the week.

While the overall theme in the EIA report was bullish, lower-than-normal refining utilization for this time of year suggested that refiners may be holding up their normal uptake of crude due to the heightened prices in the market.

The EIA said refiner usage for the week ended Oct. 15 was just below 85% of optimal capacity when it ought to be closer to 90% at least. The backwardation on the WTI complex could be the reason, as nearby or even  longer-dated oil was cheaper to buy than barrels for prompt delivery. 

WTI’s spot price is up almost 11% for October alone, while gaining 72% on the year. Brent has risen 9% for the month and 65% for the year.

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