Oil prices fell on Wednesday amid
data showing a build-up in U.S. gasoline supplies, but a heavy drain
on crude stocks. International benchmark Brent blend crude for July
delivery last traded 14 cents lower at $29.32 a barrel while Nymex
July crude stood at 28.88, falling 30 cents. Prices had climbed at the
start of the session amid a report that U.S. crude stocks had posted
their third largest weekly decline since at least 1984, but later fell
as traders took into account mitigating circumstances and rising
gasoline stocks. Gasoline futures slumped 2.21 cents to 87.30 cents a
gallon, very near levels last seen only in mid-march, well before the
start of the peak usage summertime driving season.
Weekly inventory data from the
industry group American Petroleum Institute (API) showed U.S. Crude
stocks falling 13.2 million barrels to 312.2 million barrels. The U.S.
Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported slightly more
moderate figures, with an 8.2 million barrel drop in crude stocks. The
larger-than-expected falls were attributed to a delay in tanker
loadings caused by bad weather at a major crude oil import terminal in
Louisiana, indicating the drop was a short-term phenomenon that would
quickly correct itself. Traders also noted that U.S. crude stocks are
still around 17 million barrels above last year's lean levels.
Gasoline stocks rose around six million barrels, according to the
reports, putting supplies between seven and 12 million barrels up on
last year's lowly levels and further calming concerns of a potential
shortage and price spike this summer.