Heading into this morning's delayed release of the weekly inventory report from the Department of Energy, WTI crude oil prices had already slipped below $100 for the first time since July. Once the release came out, though, there was not much in it to help prices get back above that level. While traders were expecting inventories to increase by 3 million barrels, the actual increase was just a hair under 4 million barrels. While inventories typically increase at this time of year, the magnitude of the increase this year has been larger than normal. As a result of this increase, inventories are close to their highest levels of the year relative to the average for this time of year.
While crude oil inventories rose more than expected, gasoline stockpiles fell more than forecast. As shown in the chart below, analysts were looking for inventories to decline by a million barrels, the actual decline was more than 2.5 million. Declines in gasoline stockpiles are typical for this time of year, and if the pattern holds inventories should decline through early November.