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The Energy Information Administration said today that US oil inventories declined last week by 2.9 million barrels to 372.3 million. The draw was driven by demand from refineries, which continue to operate at high run rates.
Capacity utilisation ran at a punchy 91.5% over the course of last week, although this was down on the operation rate seen in the week prior.
The high refinery operation rates along with a drop in crude output, which fell by 17,000 barrels a day last week, is a positive for the price of crude.
Refineries increased production of gasoline, while easing back on distillate production and the consequent 2.1 million-barrel reduction in distiliates is also supportive of the crude price. A 1.3 million increase in the gasoline supply is likely to continue pressuring prices at the pumps in the US.
Shortly before today’s Fed decision, US light crude oil futures for February were trading up 0.48% at $97.93 a barrel. 15 minutes after the Fed decision, crude oil had eased slightly, but was still in positive territory for the day, up 0.32% at $97.80 a barrel.