|Crude oil inventories (weekly change)||4.8M barrels||8.2M barrels|
|Gasoline (weekly change)||-4.3M barrels||-2.0M barrels|
|Distillates (weekly change)||1.3M barrels||0.0M barrels|
The glut builds and builds as oil inventories rose sharply for a 12th straight week, up 4.8 million barrels in the March 27 week. At 471.4 million barrels, inventories are at a new 80-year record high. Refineries, operating at an active 89.4 percent of capacity, picked up production in the week and may be picking up production in the ongoing week as well judging by wholesale supplies which now look thin, up only 1.9 percent for gasoline and up only 1.3 percent for distillates compared to this time last year. The oil patch is awash with oil and products which is bound to keep downward pressure on prices.
The Energy Information Administration (EIA) provides weekly information on petroleum inventories in the U.S., whether produced here or abroad. The level of inventories helps determine prices for petroleum products.
Petroleum product prices are determined by supply and demand - just like any other good and service. During periods of strong economic growth, one would expect demand to be robust. If inventories are low, this will lead to increases in crude oil prices - or price increases for a wide variety of petroleum products such as gasoline or heating oil. If inventories are high and rising in a period of strong demand, prices may not need to increase at all, or as much. During a period of sluggish economic activity, demand for crude oil may not be as strong. If inventories are rising, this may push down oil prices.
Crude oil is an important commodity in the global market. Prices fluctuate depending on supply and demand conditions in the world. Since oil is such an important part of the economy, it can also help determine the direction of inflation. In the U.S., consumer prices have moderated whenever oil prices have fallen, but have accelerated when oil prices have risen.
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