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Yesterday’s EIA report was taken with a grain of salt, as the effects of Hurricane Harvey badly skewed the data resulting in a print that was basically worthless from a fundamental analysis standpoint. As would be expected with a large number of refinery outages, crude stocks rose +4.6M bbls, but that was slightly less than estimates calling for a +5.0M build.
Meanwhile, both gasoline and heating oil inventories declined (as refineries runs were way down) by -3.2M bbls and -1.4M bbls, respectively (but both declines were smaller than expected). On balance, the headline prints were largely dismissed. WTI finished the day down 0.22% while RBOB gasoline futures fell 0.98%.
The production portion of the report was a little shocking at first glance, but at the same time, the data made sense when you consider the impact Harvey had on the Gulf Coast oil industry. Lower 48 production declined -783K b/d last week, or 94% of the 2017 output gains.
For perspective, the average weekly change coming into this week was +24K b/d. Like the headlines, the production data was largely overlooked by traders because the data was so badly skewed by Hurricane Harvey.
Looking ahead, it will be very important to watch the production data. If output does not recover in a swift manner that will be a bullish supply side development, as the relentless grind higher in US oil output has been the single-largest headwind for oil prices this year. For now, the outlook for oil is neutral with a bias to the downside, as nothing has changed materially enough to push futures through resistance between $50 and $54/barrel in WTI.
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