Crude falls after latest inventory data

The price of US crude oil dropped sharply today after a report from the US Energy Department showed crude stockpiles decreased by a smaller amount than had been expected.

US light crude oil futures for July were off 1.6% late in the New York trading session today, falling to around $94.40 per barrel, as inventory data from the Energy Information Administration painted a bearish picture of petroleums as a whole.

The report showed that US stocks of crude oil declined by 338,000 barrels last week, a substantially smaller drawdown than the 600,000 barrels that had been the median estimate from a Bloomberg poll of analysts. Oil stored at Cushing, Oklahoma (the delivery point for crude oil futures) increased by 449,000 barrels to 50.2 million.

Gasoline supplies also increased, rising 3.02 million barrels to 220.7 million barrels. A substantial drop in gasoline inventories had been forecast. The build in gasoline suggests weak demand heading into the summer driving season, which runs from late May through to September, historically a time of peak demand for gasoline. Gasoline consumption for the past four weeks was 8.5 million barrels, down from 8.79 million for the same period in 2012.

Chinese crude inventories climbed 0.1 % in April, according to a newsletter published by the Xinhua News agency today. China is the second-largest consumer of oil in the world, behind the US.

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