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Drop in U.S. crude supplies Wednesday boosts oil, but prices end lower for the month – MarketWatch

WTI, Brent oil post their 5th monthly loss in 6 months

EIA reports a 12.6 million-barrel weekly drop in U.S. crude stockpiles.(Johannes Eisele/AFP)

Myra P. Saefong and William Watts, MarketWatch

EnergiesNet.com 11 30 2022

Oil futures settled higher on Wednesday, finding support after U.S. government data revealed that domestic crude inventories fell by nearly 13 million barrels, down for a third consecutive week, ahead of this weekend’s OPEC+ decision on crude production levels.

U.S. and global benchmark crude prices, however, registered a monthly loss —the fifth monthly loss in six months, as traders looked for any signs of an easing of China’s COVID restrictions.

Price action

  • West Texas Intermediate crude for January delivery CL.1, 0.68% CL00, 0.66% CLF23, 0.68% rose $2.35, or 3%, to settle at $80.55 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the highest since Nov. 22, according to Dow Jones Market Data. Prices based on the front month ended down by 6.9% for the month.

  • January Brent crude BRNF23, +2.81%, the global benchmark, was up $2.40, or 2.9%, to end at $85.43 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe. Prices for the contract, which expired at the end of the trading session, fell 9.9% for the month. February Brent BRN00, 0.64% BRNG23, 0.63%, the most actively traded contract, gained 3.2% to $86.97 a barrel.

  • Back on Nymex, December gasoline RBZ22, +3.93% rose 3.7% to $2.4185 a gallon, end the month about 14% lower.

  • December heating oil HOZ22, +2.62% was up 2% at $3.3629 a gallon, but lost nearly 20% for the month. The December contracts expired at the end of the session.

  • January natural gas NGF23, -0.26% settled at $6.93 per million British thermal units, down 4.2% Wednesday, but up around 9% for the month.

    Supply data

The Energy Information Administration on Wednesday reported that U.S. crude inventories dropped 12.6 million barrels for the week ended Nov. 25. That followed two consecutive weekly losses.

On average, analysts forecasted a decline of 4.4 million barrels, according to a poll conducted by S&P Global Commodity Insights. The American Petroleum Institute said late Tuesday that U.S. crude inventories fell 7.9 million barrels last week, according to news reports.

In a note Wednesday, Alex Hodes, energy analyst at INTL FCStone, pointed out that exports of crude hit nearly 35 million barrels for the week and crude and refined product exports hit a fresh all-time high of 11.8 million barrels a day.

The EIA also reported weekly inventory increases of 2.8 million barrels for gasoline and 3.5 million barrels for distillates. The S&P Global Commodity Insights survey had called for increases of 600,000 barrels for gasoline and 800,000 barrels for distillates.

Crude stocks at the Cushing, Okla., Nymex delivery hub fell by 400,000 barrels for the week, the EIA said, while stocks in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve declined by 1.4 million barrels.

China and OPEC+

Crude has also found support on expectations China will move to begin relaxing COVID curbs after a wave of rare protests. The restrictions have crimped crude demand from the world’s largest energy consumer.

Chinese demand “remains a top source of downside risk, as COVID containment efforts and related protests have created a challenging climate for near-term product demand,” said Robbie Fraser, manager, global research and analytics at Schneider Electric, in a daily note.

“The state of Chinese product demand stands alongside ongoing interest rate increases as the two most prominent downside risks to crude prices,” he said.

SeeChina’s factory, construction, service activities contract further

Traders are also focused on a Dec. 4 meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, a group known as OPEC+.

Read: U.S. oil taps its lowest price of the year thanks to China as OPEC+ output decision looms

On Tuesday, reports said OPEC+ will hold a virtual meeting Sunday, instead of gathering in person. “Opting for no-drama optics seemingly increases the likelihood of a rollover decision,” Helima Croft, head of global commodity strategy and MENA research at RBC Capital Markets, wrote in a note Tuesday.

Monthly move

For the month, oil prices fell as “uncertainty emerged as the dominant influence on futures prices,” said Tyler Richey, co-editor at Sevens Report Research.

Oil followed the news tied to China’s zero-COVID policy throughout the month given its influence on energy demand.

Last week, much weaker than expected U.S. economic data “revamped concerns about a potentially deep and painful recession looming ahead,” Richey told MarketWatch. WTI then saw a brief intraday drop on Monday to its lowest price since December, while Brent touched it slowest level since January.

For now, WTI is holding onto its “long-standing range” between $76 and $93 with traders assessing the “fluid fundamental backdrop” as the market begins the final month of the year, he said.

marketwatch.com 11 30 2022

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