Gasoline Prices Trend Lower Even As Demand Rises

Oil edged up above $90 per barrel on Wednesday following the release of the weekly petroleum status report by the Energy Information Administration. The report showed the U.S. crude oil refinery inputs for the week ended April 19 averaged 14.5 million barrels per day (“bpd”), 586,000 bpd below the previous week’s average. Refineries operated at 83.5 percent of capacity.

The EIA reports that U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) increased by 0.9 million barrels. At 388.6 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are well above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. Total motor gasoline inventories decreased by 3.9 million barrels last week but remained in the upper half of the average range.

Imports averaged about 7.6 million barrels per day last week, 133,000 bpd higher than the previous week. Over the last four weeks, imports averaged 7.7 million bpd, 1.3 million bpd below the same four-week period last year. This is in line with a growing long-term trend declining oil imports.

The EIA report also showed an unexpected increase in demand for gasoline, as inventories fell…

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U.S. Imports of Crude Oil

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration

The EIA report this week showed that gasoline inventories fell 3.9 million barrels, which represents an unexpected increase in demand. Economists were expecting a decline of just 0.6 million barrels. An increase in gasoline demand is usually a positive sign of consumer health.

In its Short-Term Energy Outlook report, published earlier in April, the EIA forecast that average retail gasoline prices would average $3.63 per gallon through the April-September driving season. The price of gasoline has fallen fairly steadily for the past eight weeks.

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Gasoline

Source: Energy Information Administration

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