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Oil consolidates after big U.S. crude inventory rise

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Oil futures remained rangebound Thursday, making modest moves in either direction, a day after data showed U.S. crude inventories surged by 16 million barrels.

Price action
  • West Texas Intermediate crude for March delivery
    CL00,
    +0.10%

    CL.1,
    +0.10%

    CLH23,
    +0.10%

    rose 10 cents, or 0.1%, to $78.69 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices traded between a low of $78.05 and a high of $79.54.

  • April Brent crude
    BRN00,
    +0.06%

    BRNJ23,
    +0.06%
    ,
    the global benchmark, ticked up 2 cents, or less than 0.1%, to $85.40 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe.

  • Back on Nymex, March gasoline
    RBH23,
    -1.93%

    fell 1.7% to $2.4465 a gallon, while March heating oil
    HOH23,
    -0.60%

    ticked down 0.3% to $2.8368 a gallon.

  • March natural gas
    NGH23,
    -0.16%

    rose 0.6% to $2.486 per million British thermal units.

Market drivers

Oil ended with losses Wednesday after the Energy Information Administration reported that U.S. commercial crude inventories rose by 16.3 million barrels for the week ended Feb. 10. That marked an eighth consecutive week of supply gains reported by the EIA.

See: What are these EIA ‘adjustments’ in the weekly U.S. oil supply data tables all about?

The EIA data so far this year has been “consistently bearish and pointed to sluggish consumer demand, hesitant refining activity, sizeable builds in oil stockpiles and incrementally rising domestic oil production,” analysts at Sevens Report Research wrote in Thursday’s newsletter. These are “all bearish factors for the oil futures market.”

Still, Russia’s 500,000 barrel per day oil production cut beginning in March and ongoing optimism about recovering demand out of China “remain supportive of prices, leaving oil futures largely rangebound between support in the low
$70s and resistance in the low $80s,” they said.

The “primary risk to oil prices remains to the downside as recession warnings from the Treasury market point to a potential collapse in consumer demand in the coming months or quarters,” the analysts said.

Crude has traded largely sideways since late 2022 in a range between the low $70s and low $80s for WTI. A rebound by the U.S. dollar is seen as a weight on crude, with the ICE U.S. Dollar Index
DXY,
+0.02%
,
a measure of the currency against a basket of six major rivals, up 1.9% so far in February. A stronger dollar can be a weight on commodities priced in the unit, making them more expensive to users of other currencies.

Meanwhile, natural-gas futures traded modestly higher after the EIA reported on Thursday that domestic natural-gas supplies fell by 100 billion cubic feet for the week ended Feb. 10.

That compared with an average analyst forecast for a decline of 109 billion cubic feet, according to a survey conducted by S&P Global Commodity Insights.

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