Crude-oil shocker: API data show supply surging

Market Watch – by Myra P. Saefong

SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) — The oil market got a bit of a shock late Wednesday, when the American Petroleum Institute’s supply data were released.

U.S. crude-oil supplies as of the week ended Feb. 13 saw a whopping 14.3 million-barrel jump from a week earlier, the trade group reported, according to news reports and various sources.  

Analysts polled by Platts forecast an increase of just 3.1 million barrels for the week. Prices for March crude CLH5, -0.23%  on the New York Mercantile Exchange dropped to $50.48 a barrel in electronic trading after the API data, down from a regular-session settlement of $52.14.

The market will have to wait for confirmation from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, which will release its weekly petroleum supply figures at 11 a.m. Eastern time on Thursday. Supply data are delayed by a day this week due to the Presidents’ Day holiday.

“We would be concerned that much of this big build in crude stocks is taking place in the Midwest, backing up throughout the Midwest district, beyond [storage hub] Cushing, Okla.,” said Richard Hastings, a macro strategist at Global Hunter Securities.

Still, “it has to be considered that the West Coast port [problem] could be suppressing some fuel demand, in addition to some refinery outages trending above 1 million barrels per day over the last week,” he said.

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