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Oil Prices Under Pressure As Crude Inventories Rise

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures are under pressure on Friday, amid an unexpected rise in U.S. crude and fuel inventories, according to a government report released the previous session. Profit-taking ahead of the week-end and next week’s Fed meeting are also being blamed for the weakness.

Furthermore, we’re likely seeing some hedge fund selling due to margin calls being triggered by the steep sell-off in the U.S. equity markets.

EIA Reports First US Crude Build Since November, Gasoline Inventories Hit 11-Month High

U.S. crude oil stockpiles rose last week for the first time since November while gasoline inventories grew to an 11-month high, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Thursday.

Crude inventories rose by 515,000 barrels in the week to January 14 to 413.8 million barrels, compared with analysts’ expectations in a Reuters poll for a 938,000-barrel drop.

Refinery crude runs fell by 120,000 bpd to 15.45 million bpd and utilization rates fell 0.3 percentage points to 88.1% of total capacity last week, the EIA said. Additionally, net U.S. crude imports rose last week by 21,000 bpd, data showed.

U.S. gasoline stocks rose by 5.9 million barrels in the week to 246.6 million barrels, the EIA said, compared with expectations for a 2.6 million-barrel rise.

Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, fell by 1.4 million barrels last week to 128 million barrels.

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