After oil prices rose 3% Wednesday on reports of a drawdown in U.S. crude stocks and continued fighting in Ukraine, the gains were reversed on news that the U.S. could start releasing 1 million bpd from strategic reserves for several months, with a formal announcement expected by the White House today.
In mid-morning trading today, WTI futures were down 4.1% at $103.40/bbl, Brent was down 5.0% at $108.40/bbl and U.S. natural gas was up 3.6% at $5.81/MMBtu.
OPEC+ member nations will decide later today whether to stick to a modest output increase of 432,000 bpd in May.
U.S. crude stockpiles fell by a larger-than-expected 3.4 million barrels last week to the lowest level since late 2018, while emergency reserves fell to a two-decade low. Meanwhile, a surprise build in gasoline and distillate stocks tempered upward oil price pressure.
After seven weeks of holding steady, U.S. crude output inched up 100,000 bpd last week to 11.7 million bpd, while Gulf Coast refinery utilization rose to its highest level since January 2020.
U.S. gas storage is 17% below normal for this time of year despite record production, as surging exports to Europe keep supplies tight and prices high.
Toyota and Honda both defied parts shortages last month for respective production increases of 11% and 8.1% from a year ago.
Logistics operators are increasingly asking for longer container ship charters, as much as 10 years, according to Flex LNG. Meanwhile, the charter market has shrunk by some 1.6 million TEUs of capacity since the first year of the pandemic.
Positive drug tests among U.S. workers hit a two-year high last year, led by positive results for THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, which were up 50% from 2017 despite fewer employers testing for the substance.
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