Thu 01 Mar 2012 08:24:01 CT
April crude oil prices traded on a slightly higher track during the overnight and early morning hours. The market appeared to draft support from the latest economic readings out of the US and China. Chinese Manufacturing PMI figures for February came in slightly better than expected and at a new 5-month high. The positive data point suggests that China might be able to avoid a hard economic landing. In the meantime, traders remain concerned over supply disruptions from Iran. This was evidenced in yesterday's EIA monthly report that showed recent sanctioning against Iran has already disrupted global supply flows. Yesterday's EIA inventory data showed a larger than expected increase in crude stocks of 4.160 million barrels. EIA crude stocks are 1.507 million barrels below year ago levels but 11.24 million barrels above the five year average. Crude oil imports for the week stood at 9.187 million barrels per day compared to 9.091 million barrels the previous week. The refinery operating rate was down 1.9% to 83.6%, compared to 80.9% last year and the five year average of 83.53%.
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