Houston — Both crude oil prices and fuel benchmarks dropped slightly April 7 following the news that US gasoline inventories rose by greater volumes than commercial crude stocks fell in the week ended April 2.
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As of 1511 GMT, front-month NYMEX May WTI shed 27 cents down to $59.06/b, and ICE June Brent dropped 24 cents to $62.50/b.
NYMEX May RBOB fell 1.63 cents to $1.9500/gal, and May ULSD dipped 1.16 cents to $1.7825/gal.
US gasoline stocks rose by 4 million barrels to about 234,600,000 barrels, while commercial crude inventories dropped by 3.5 million barrels to 498,300,000 barrels for the week ended April 2, according to the US Energy Information Administration.
US crude production was estimated to fall from 11.1 million b/d to 10.9 million b/d, while US crude exports jumped from 3.17 million b/d to 3.43 million b/d, further helping to draw commercial crude stocks.
That data also indicates the US refining complex is further recovering from both the historic Texas freeze in February and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, but demand is not yet keeping pace, analysts said.
"[A] rise in US gasoline inventories during a week that usually sees an uptick in road fuel demand as people travel during the Easter break is a negative indication and the market quickly realized it, looking behind the crude draws, therefore keeping oil price fairly stable," said Rystad Energy oil markets analyst Louise Dickson.
However, Dickson added, rising COVID-19 cases in much of the world, from Europe to India, continue to negatively impact oil markets. And it is increasingly looking like it may take until the summer before more progress is made on the global vaccine rollouts.
"For the oil market to recover, the world needs further progress in fighting the pandemic, a slowing infection count and a gradual withdrawal of lockdowns and restrictions," she said. "Oil prices are understandably held back from robust growth until the needed pandemic breakthroughs are in place."
Geopolitically, crude prices also are weighted down by early progress on talks for the US and Iran to reestablish the 2015 nuclear accord, as well as the plans of the so-called OPEC+ group to further unwind their production cuts in the next few months.