|Crude oil inventories (weekly change)||2.1M barrels||6.6M barrels|
|Gasoline (weekly change)||-0.1M barrels||-4.2M barrels|
|Distillates (weekly change)||-3.6M barrels||0.5M barrels|
Crude oil inventories rose 2.1 million barrels in the April 15 week to 538.6 million, but product inventories declined, with gasoline down 0.1 million barrels and distillates down 3.6 million. Gasoline production rose in the week, averaging 9.7 million barrels per day, while distillate production declined to an average of 4.7 million barrels per day. Demand for gasoline averaged 9.4 million barrels per day over the last four weeks, which was 3.9 percent higher than last year at this time. Distillate fuel demand averaged 3.9 million barrels daily in the last four weeks, and was down just 0.7 percent from last year, a significant improvement from the extremely weak comparisons of this winter. WTI traded higher immediately after the report, rising about 60 cents to $42.15 per barrel.
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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