The government agency also reported on Thursday that U.S. crude inventories, excluding the SPR, climbed by 500,000 barrels for the week ended Jan. 14.
On average, analysts had forecast a fall of 700,000 barrels, according to a poll conducted by S&P Global Platts. The American Petroleum Institute on Wednesday reported a 1.4 million-barrel climb, according to sources. Data were delayed by a day this week because of Monday’s Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday.
The crude stock build reported by the EIA followed seven consecutive weeks of declines, and came as refinery runs dropped to their lowest since mid-November, said Matt Smith, lead oil analyst, Americas, at Kpler.
West Texas Intermediate crude for February delivery
rose 79 cents, or 0.8%, to $87.75 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, ahead of the contract’s expiration at the end of the session. The most actively traded March contract
was up 83 cents, or 1%, at $86.63 a barrel.
March Brent crude
the global benchmark, added 67 cents, or 0.8%, to $89.11 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe. WTI and Brent on Wednesday both posted their highest finishes since October 2014. Through Wednesday, WTI was up 15.6% so far in the new year, while Brent had rallied 13.7%.
The EIA also reported a weekly inventory increase of 5.9 million barrels for gasoline, while distillate stockpiles fell by 1.4 million barrels.
“Gasoline inventories did come in higher than expected, but ready-to-use gasoline supplies are still relatively tight,” said Flynn. Gasoline supplies are expected to increase at this time of year, so “that wasn’t a big surprise and if you look at the gasoline demand week over week, it was up modestly from last week’s drop.”
The S&P Global Platts survey expected a supply gain of 2.4 million barrels for gasoline and an inventory decline of 1.1 million barrels for distillates. The EIA data showed crude stocks at the Cushing, Okla., Nymex delivery hub edged down by 1.3 million barrels for the week.
“Gasoline inventories showed another chunky build” and they’re now up a “whopping 35 million barrels, or 17%, in the last eight weeks,” said Kpler’s Smith. “Distillate inventories fell for the first week in five as implied demand rebounded strongly.”
Overall, oil prices “continue to look buoyant, as the predictions for a move towards $100 a barrel in the coming weeks get ever louder,” said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK, in a market update.
“With the UK dropping recent COVID restrictions, expectations over demand as we head into the spring have continued to rise, while supply chain constraints serve to limit the downside,” he said.
Oil traders also continue to monitor developments in Ukraine, as U.S. President Joe Biden has said he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin will “move in” on Ukraine, but doesn’t want “full-blown war,” BBC News reported on Thursday.
Read: Tensions between Russia and Ukraine aren’t fully priced into commodities
Natural-gas futures extended their recent losses, even after a report from EIA revealed a weekly drop in U.S. supplies of the fuel that was bigger than the five-year average.
The EIA reported on Thursday that domestic natural-gas supplies fell by 206 billion cubic feet for the week ended Jan. 14. That compared with the average decline of 193 billion cubic feet forecast by analysts polled by S&P Global Platts, which pegged the five-year average supply fall for the period at 167 billion cubic feet.
February natural gas
traded at $3.818 per million British thermal units, down 5.3%, after losing 5.9% on Wednesday.
“Prices have found selling interest despite continued colder-than-normal weather forecasts, as inventories are still expected to exit winter at healthy levels, due to the strong recovery charted during December,” said Christin Redmond, commodity analyst at Schneider Electric, in a daily note.