Investing.com – U.S. crude oil inventories rose unexpectedly last week, providing additional signs of weak demand, according to official data released on Wednesday.
The Energy Information Administration said in its regular weekly report that increased by 2.21 million barrels in the week to June 7.
That was compared to forecasts for a stockpile draw of 0.48 million barrels after a surge of 6.77 million barrels in the previous week.
The EIA report also showed that increased by 0.76 million barrels, compared to expectations for a gain of 0.74 million barrels, although fell unexpectedly by 1 million barrels, compared to forecasts for a build of 1.14 million.
“Another week and another build in crude and gasoline stockpiles,” Investing.com senior commodity analyst Barani Krishnan commented after the report. “Mind you, we’re already into June and despite refinery runs at above 93% and getting nearer to the 95% norm for this time of year, we’re just not seeing the sort of fuel demand we should be getting.”
Krishnan noted that, notwithstanding the draw in distillates, total petroleum inventories surged by 9.3 million barrels.
“This is another woeful data sheet hardly reflective of the peak season for oil demand,” he concluded.
plummeted following the release, hitting an intraday low of $51.95. Although recovering a portion of those losses, it was still down 2.5% at $51.95 a barrel by 10:53 AM ET (14:53 GMT), compared to $52.10 prior to the publication.
London-traded slumped 2.0% to $61.07 a barrel, recovering from an intraday low of $60.31 in a knee-jerk reaction to the data.
Oil prices were already registering sharp declines of around 2% ahead of the data on signs that a weakening global economy was pushing growth in demand for oil to its lowest in years.
The EIA already cut its forecasts for 2019 world oil demand growth on Tuesday, while analysts have also been downbeat on the outlook.
“Global oil demand growth is running at the weakest rate since 2012,” analysts at Bank of America Merrill Lynch said.
Analysts participating in a May Reuters oil survey had their most optimistic growth forecasts at around 1.4 million bpd against 1.7 million bpd in a January poll.
Fears of slowing demand amid worries of a global recession seem to have overtaken bullish supply-side factors such as OPEC-led production cuts or U.S. sanctions against producers Iran and Venezuela.
With OPEC and its allies widely expected to extend their output cut deal at the end of the month, Krishnan also suggested that a could represent another bearish threat for crude prices.
“The first Japanese premier to set foot on Iranian soil since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Abe’s visit will be historical even without what he hopes to achieve: making peace between Tehran and the U.S. While U.S.-Iran tensions have rippled across the globe, the real repercussions felt by the world are oil prices that may be higher than warranted because of the face-off,” Krishnan explained.
“Iran’s oil exports alone are about a million barrels below capacity because of the U.S. embargo,” he added.
Krishnan said that there is a “growing feeling” that U.S.-Iran nuclear negotiations could be announced.
“Few things could be more bearish for oil if that occurs,” he warned.