Crude and gasoline futures contracts have seen slight gains, while diesel futures have fallen despite another decline in U.S. inventories, according to federal data.
Inventory Data and Market Volatility
The Energy Information Administration released inventory data on Wednesday morning, revealing builds in U.S. crude and gasoline stockpiles, but a decrease in ULSD supplies. This data has caused pressure on crude prices, leading to fluctuating futures prices throughout the day. Additionally, the equity markets are also experiencing a downward trend, while no significant developments in the Israel-Hamas war have influenced the market.
Crude Prices and Contracts
The U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude contracts have experienced both gains and losses, moving in and out of positive territory. At 11:50 a.m. ET, the December WTI contract was up by 18cts to $83.92/bbl, and January prices were showing an increase of 24cts to $83.21/bbl. In comparison, European benchmark Brent crude contracts have seen larger increases than WTI. The December contract rose by 51cts to $88.58/bbl, while January prices increased by 42cts to $87.58/bbl.
Gasoline contracts have remained in positive territory, with the November RBOB contract up by 0.10ct to $2.2686/gal, and December gains at 0.21ct to $2.2548/gal.
Interestingly, despite these slight movements in RBOB futures, retailers across the nation are experiencing gross rack-to-retail margins averaging more than 57cts/gal. Additionally, the national average diesel margin surpassed 64cts on Wednesday.
ULSD contracts have experienced losses for four consecutive days. The November contract fell by 3.82cts to $3.0067/gal, and December prices shed 3.16cts to $2.9309/gal.
Distillate Inventories Decrease, Gasoline Inventories Increase
According to a report by the Energy Information Administration (EIA), distillate inventories in the United States fell by 1.7 million barrels (bbl) in the week ended Friday. This puts distillate inventories 12% below the seasonal five-year average. On the other hand, total motor gasoline inventories increased by 200,000 bbl and are now 1% above seasonal averages. Crude inventories also saw a climb of 1.4 million bbl, but remain 5% below their usual level for this time of year.
Refineries Operating at 85.6% Capacity
Refineries in the U.S. operated at 85.6% of their capacity, with a slight decrease from the previous week as seasonal turnaround work continues. Despite this, implied gasoline demand for the week was 8.86 million barrels per day (b/d), which is more than 200,000 b/d above the recent four-week average.
Gasoline Prices Rise in Most Spot Markets
Diesel Prices Decline Nationwide
In contrast to gasoline prices, diesel prices were found to be falling across the country. Chicago diesel prices specifically experienced a decline of more than 11 cents/gal.
Renewable Identification Number Prices Experience Gains
Renewable Identification Number (RIN) prices, which had recently dropped below 90 cents, saw significant gains. D6 ethanol RINs rose by 2.75 cents, while D4 biodiesel RINs increased by 3 cents.