RBOB futures suffered their biggest one-day decline in more than six
weeks, leading declines across the energy complex, after a
bigger-than-expected build in U.S. gasoline and distillate stocks.
U.S. crude stocks rose by 1.7 million barrels to just shy of 400
million last week, the highest since the U.S. Energy Information
Administration (EIA) started collecting data in 1982.
While the build was slightly lower than forecast, traders said
higher-than-predicted stocks of some oil products helped to maintain
the bearish tone as output continues to grow. U.S. crude finished
April down for the second month in a row, down 1.8 percent, its
worst month since November.
"I think the selloff has been driven by the weak fundamentals," said
Gene McGillian, analyst and broker at Tradition Energy in Stamford,
A tepid economic growth report also weighed on prices. The U.S.
Commerce Department said on Wednesday that gross domestic product
expanded at a 0.1 percent annual rate in the first quarter, the
slowest pace since the fourth quarter of 2012.
Negative views were softened by a report on hiring from payroll
provider ADP that showed private employers added 220,000 jobs in
April, after increasing headcount by 209,000 in March. The April
figure beat a median forecast of 210,000.
Combined with a weaker economic growth report, the build in crude
oil products "should put downward pressure on products and also on
crude," said James L. Williams, energy economist at WTRG Economics
in London, Arkansas.
But the market broadly shrugged off news that U.S. Federal Reserve
will cut its bond-buying program by a further $10 billion. Some
analysts had expected it would put pressure on oil prices.
Brent crude for June delivery settled at $108.07 per barrel, down 91
cents. Brent futures gained less than 0.5 percent in April, after
finishing lower in March.
June U.S. crude settled at $99.74 per barrel, down $1.54. It had
risen 44 cents to close at $101.28 on Tuesday.
Hardest hit across the energy complex were RBOB futures, with the
front-month May futures contract down almost 2.2 percent in early
afternoon trading. May RBOB futures settled and went off the board
at $3.0077 per gallon, down 1.82 percent on the day.
May heating oil futures settled and went off the board at $2.9349
per gallon, down 1.19 percent on the day.
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Distillate stocks were up 1.94 million barrels to 114.45 million,
versus a forecast of a 600,000 barrel build, while gasoline stocks
rose 1.56 million barrels to 211.57 million, versus a forecast of a
600,000 barrel draw.
"The builds in gasoline and distillate were more than consensus,
and with refineries running above 90 percent capacity, we may have
seen the seasonal bottoms in terms of supply for refined products,"
said Phil Flynn, analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago.
In the crude market, traders were also weighing optimism about
exports from Libya after its ports reopened had pressured oil prices
this week, said SEB analyst Bjarne Schieldrop.
Libya's Zueitina oil port will load its first tanker of crude from
May 1 to May 3 after being closed for nearly 10 months because of
protests, trading and shipping sources said.
"It's more to do with optimism about higher exports than actual
volume so far, as Zueitina only has capacity to export 70,000
barrels per day," Schieldrop said.
Ukraine-related sanctions against Russia were having a mixed impact
on oil, with the measures likely to dent demand in one of the
world's largest energy consumers but also enable it to export more,
Investors were also watching Iran developments after the United
States targeted a Chinese businessman and a Dubai-based entity for
alleged offences related to violations of sanctions imposed on
(Additional editing by Simon Falush, Anna Sussman and Roberg
Gibbons; editing by Dale Hudson, Prudence Crowther and Cynthia
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