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Drop in US Crude Oil Inventories Could Push Oil Futures Higher

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US crude oil futures 

US crude oil (UCO) (USL) futures contracts for February delivery rose 0.05% and were trading at $60.4 per barrel at 1:14 AM EST on January 3, 2018. Likewise, March E- Mini S&P 500 (SPY) futures contracts rose 0.11% to 2,696 at the same time.

US oil prices were near a multiyear high. Higher oil (USO) prices benefit energy producers’ (XOP) (IEZ) earnings like Whiting Petroleum (WLL), Hess (HES), and Newfield Exploration (NFX).

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EIA’s crude oil inventories 

For the week ending December 22, 2017, US crude oil inventories fell for the sixth consecutive week. Inventories fell 10.6% between January 2017 and December 22, 2017. WTI crude oil (DWT) (UCO) prices rose ~11.8% during the same period. Any fall in inventories benefits oil (SCO) prices.

The EIA will release the US crude oil inventory report on January 4, 2018. Analysts estimate that US crude oil inventories would have fallen by ~5.2 MMbbls (million barrels) on December 22–29, 2017.

A massive fall in US crude oil inventories could push oil prices higher. Higher oil (UWT) prices benefit funds like the iShares Global Energy ETF (IXC) and the iShares U.S. Energy ETF (IYE).

However, traders should be careful. Any large build in US gasoline and distillate inventories on December 22–29, 2017, could pressure oil prices. Market surveys project that US gasoline and distillate inventories could have risen by 1.8 MMbbls and 1 MMbbls during this period.

Next, we’ll discuss how US crude oil production impacts oil prices.

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