|Crude oil inventories (weekly change)||5.3M barrels||1.3M barrels|
|Gasoline (weekly change)||-2.1M barrels||-2.1M barrels|
|Distillates (weekly change)||0.4M barrels||2.0M barrels|
The string of inventory builds continues for oil, up a fat 5.3 million barrels in the April 17 week to 489.0 million which is the 14th straight build and yet another 80-year high. The build is due to yet another rise in oil imports and also in part to an easing of refinery demand for oil. But refineries are still busy, operating at 91.2 percent of capacity. In other data, gasoline inventories fell 2.1 million barrels while distillate inventories rose 0.4 million. Despite the big headline build for oil, the price for WTI is up about 50 cents to $56.50.
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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