The crude oil market traded lower during the initial morning hours, weighed down by a weak outside market tone and stronger US Dollar. Part of the strength in the US Dollar came after the Bank of Japan sold nearly $13 billion in Yen. There were reports from a major global bank this morning that lowered their world oil demand figures due to the current economic slowdown in the US. Some traders indicated that it is possible that more forecasters and government agencies will follow suit and lower their growth targets. Yesterday's EIA inventory data showed US crude stocks rose 950,000 barrels last week, which was in line with expectations. Some traders viewed the minimal build in the wake of a 4.5 million barrel draw in SPR supplies as a slight positive. EIA crude stocks are 3.005 million barrels below year ago levels but 19.504 million barrels above the five year average. There was a rather notable decline in crude oil imports of more than 7.0% to 9.134 million barrels per day. The refinery operating rate was 89.3%, up 1.0% from last week, and compares to 91.2% last year and the five year average of 89.12%.
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