Crude slumps after inventory data

The price of crude oil, already depressed by ebbing concern over the risk of a disruption to Russian oil supplies, has sunk lower after a report from the US Energy Department shows another increase in supplies.

The Energy Information Administration today reported that crude oil inventories swelled by 1.43 million barrels last week to 363.8 million, the seventh consecutive weekly rise.

Activity at refineries dropped as the shift from the winter heating season gets underway. Many refineries begin seasonal maintenance work at this time of year, contributing to the decline in operation rate from 88.0% of capacity in the week prior to 87.4%.

As maintenance continues in the following weeks, we could see further gains in oil supplies going forward. Crude production climbed to 8.08 million barrels last week.

Crude oil futures for April fell 1.73% to $101.55 a barrel by mid-afternoon in New York.

Crude prices had benefitted from a premium for risk being priced in by the market on Monday, when the possibility of an escalation in the tensions between Ukraine and Russia stoked worries that oil supplies from Russia could be disrupted. Those fears have eased considerably since then, pressuring the price of oil. 

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