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US Crude Slides on Larger-Than-Expected Weekly Build in Domestic Supplies

November 6, 2019 at 19:37 by Andrew Moran

Crude oil futures are slumping midweek after the US government reported a much larger-than-expected increase in domestic stockpiles. The international oil market will also be affected over the next couple of weeks by the US-China trade negotiations, Saudi Aramco going public, and next month’s Organization of the Petroleum-Exporting Countries (OPEC) meeting.

December West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures declined $0.86, or 1.5%, to $56.38 per barrel at 18:32 GMT on Wednesday on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Year-to-date, US crude prices are up more than 23%.

Brent, the international benchmark for crude prices, is deep in the red in the middle of the trading week. December Brent crude futures plunged $1.18, or 1.87%, to $61.78 a barrel on London’s ICE Futures exchange.

According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), domestic crude inventories surged by 7.9 million barrels for the week ending November 1. The market had penciled in an increase of 2.7 million barrels. Gasoline supplies fell by 2.4 million barrels, while distillate stockpiles declined one million barrels.

The Baker Hughes total oil rig count came in at 691, down from the previous week’s 696.

Investors are combing through several reports on Wednesday that could drive the crude market for the rest of the month. One of the first newsworthy developments is Saudi Arabia reportedly pushing OPEC to initiate bigger oil output reductions ahead of its Saudi Aramco initial public offering (IPO). Should OPEC members and non-member cut production levels, then it would push up the price of crude, helping Aramco gain an even bigger valuation. Right now, its valuation ranges between $1.3 trillion and $2.3 trillion.

The major issue, however, is that it would encourage US shale companies to ramp up production efforts. In recent months, output numbers have tumbled, but higher prices would stimulate domestic output levels. Instead, some industry observers believe OPEC will concentrate on compliance rather than production cuts.

OPEC is scheduled to meet next month in Vienna.

Global financial markets are concerned about the prolonged US-China trade dispute further exacerbating economic weakness. They are ostensibly impatient because the longer it goes the more it will affect international demand levels. But both sides are showing signs that they could reach the first phase of a comprehensive trade deal.

In other energy markets, December natural gas futures dropped $0.03, or 1.02%, to $2.83 per million British thermal units (btu). December gasoline futures fell $0.045, or 2.75%, to $1.62 a gallon. December heating oil futures shed $0.03, or 1.52%, to $1.92 per gallon.

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