Crude oil futures posted a gain on Thursday, 07 March 2019 at Nymex buoyed by data showing a fall in February OPEC output to its lowest in nearly four years.Gasoline futures, meanwhile, continued their sharp advance to finish at a multi month high after U.S. data Wednesday showed a drop in U.S. gasoline stockpiles that was more than double market expectations.

West Texas Intermediate crude for April delivery tacked on 44 cents, or 0.8%, to settle at $56.66 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. May Brent rose 31 cents, or 0.5%, to $66.30 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe.

Although OPEC is curbing production, however, U.S. crude supplies have posted gains in six of the past seven weeks and production continues to sit at a record. The Energy Information Administration on Wednesday reported that U.S. crude supplies rose by 7.1 million barrels and total domestic crude production remained at a record 12.1 million barrels a day for the week ended 1 March 2019.

The report also showed that supplies of gasoline fell by 4.2 million barrels, while distillates edged down by 2.4 million barrels last week, according to the EIA. Market had shown expectations for supply declines of 2 million barrels for gasoline and 1.4 million barrels for distillates.

The EIA reported Thursday that domestic supplies of the fuel fell by 149 billion cubic feet for the week ended 1 March 2019. That was within range of the 146 billion cubic foot decline expected.

EConomic data at Wall Street showed that initial claims for the week ending March 2 were low at 223,000 (consensus 224,000), as expected, while continuing claims for the week ending February 23 fell by 50,000 to 1.755 million. The key takeaway from the report is that the low level of initial claims is consistent with prior readings that have been consistent with the understanding that labor market conditions remain tight.

Nonfarm business sector labor productivity increased 1.9% (consensus 1.7%) in the fourth quarter. Unit labor costs increased 2.0% (consensus 1.5%).The key takeaway from the report is that the annual average productivity from 2017 to 2018 was a lowly 1.3%, which is below the long-term rate of 2.1% from 1947 to 2018. Total outstanding consumer credit increased by $17.0 billion in January (consensus $17.0 billion) after increasing a revised $15.4 billion (from $16.5 billion) in December. Once again, credit growth was rooted in nonrevolving debt, like car loans and student loans, while revolving credit (credit cards) expanded at a more muted pace.

Among other energy products, April gasoline added 0.9% at $1.805 a gallon, after a climbing 1.2% on Wednesday. April heating oil settled at $2.013 a gallon, down 0.2%.

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