Oil futures declined on Wednesday, posting a third straight session loss, after U.S. government data revealed an unexpected weekly climb in domestic crude supplies — the largest in a month.
Fears about waning demand in China also continued to weigh on prices.
West Texas Intermediate crude for December delivery
delivery fell $3.08, or 3.5%, to settle at $85.83 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange after falling 4% during the first two trading days of the week. Wednesday’s settlement was the lowest for a front-month contract since Oct. 25, according to Dow Jones Market Data.
January Brent crude
the global benchmark, lost $2.71, or 2.8%, to $92.65 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe, the lowest finish since Oct. 20.
Back on Nymex, December gasoline
fell 3.5% to $2.5446 a gallon, while December heating oil
lost 3% at $3.6563 a gallon.
December natural gas
fell nearly 4.5% to $5.865 per million British thermal units, extending its losses to a second day in a row.
Oil prices extended their early Wednesday declines after the Energy Information Administration reported that U.S. crude inventories rose by 3.9 million barrels for the week ended Nov. 4. That came on the heels of a 3.6 million-barrel weekly decline in the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve, EIA data show.
Crude stocks “rose in excess of the SPR volumes” released by the Energy Department last week, as U.S. crude exports declined, imports ticked higher, and domestic production rose, Troy Vincent, senior market analyst at DTN, told MarketWatch.
The weekly rise for crude stockpiles was the largest since a 9.9 million-barrel increase the EIA reported for the week ended Oct. 7.
On average, analysts forecasted a decline of 700,000 barrels for crude inventories, according to a poll conducted by S&P Global Commodity Insights. The American Petroleum Institute reported on Tuesday a weekly rise of 5.6 million barrels in crude inventories, according to sources.
The EIA also showed weekly inventory declines of 900,000 barrels for gasoline and 500,000 barrels for distillates. The analyst survey had called for decreases of 1.2 million barrels for gasoline and 900,000 barrels for distillates.
“Despite distillate fuel oil exports jumping a reported 525,000 [barrels per day], weakening domestic demand and rising refinery runs helped limit the draw to just 500,000 barrels last week,” said Vincent.
Crude stocks at the Cushing, Okla., Nymex delivery hub fell by 1 million barrels for the week, the EIA said, while total domestic petroleum production climbed by 200,000 barrels per day to 12.1 million barrels a day.
In a separate monthly report issued Tuesday, the EIA raised its 2022 and 2023 forecasts for heating oil and diesel prices and noted that distillate supplies, which are primarily consumed as diesel and heating oil, finished the month of October at their lowest levels in any October since 1951.
Read: EIA forecasts higher heating-oil and diesel prices as U.S. distillate supply marks lowest end-of-October level in over 70 years
Oil and gas prices have declined in recent sessions despite an OPEC+ output target cut that began in November and hopes for less restrictive COVID-19 measures in China. So far, Beijing has shown no signs of loosening COVID-related restrictions, which has weighed on energy prices, said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at OANDA.
China’s consumer inflation eased in October, while factory-gate prices fell from a year ago for the first time in nearly two years, reflecting weakening domestic demand as the economy cooled further.