|Crude oil inventories (weekly change)||4.1M barrels||-7.1M barrels|
|Gasoline (weekly change)||5.0M barrels||8.3M barrels|
|Distillates (weekly change)||8.4M barrels||10.1M barrels|
Crude oil inventories rose 4.1 million barrels in the January 6 week to 483.1 million, up 7.1 percent from last year at this time. Product inventories also increased substantially, with gasoline up 5.0 million barrels to 240.5 million, which is 13.5 percent higher than last year's level at this time, while distillates rose 8.4 million barrels to 170.0 million, 2.7 percent above the level last year.
Crude oil imports increased sharply in the week, averaging 9.1 million barrels per day, up by about 1.9 million barrels per day. Imports over the last four weeks averaged over 8.2 million barrels per day, 6.2 percent more than in the same period last year.
Refineries operated at 93.6 percent of their operable capacity in the week, with gasoline production rising to an average of 9.7 million barrels per day. Distillate production remained stable at 5.3 million barrels per day.
On the demand side, total products supplied over the last four weeks averaged 19.5 million barrels per day, up 1.3 percent from the same period a year ago. Of this amount, supplied gasoline averaged 8.9 million barrels per day, up 0.7 percent from last year, while distillates supplied averaged 3.6 million barrels, up 7.5 percent.
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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