Weekly energy inventories from the Department of Energy were released Wednesday morning and showed a smaller than expected build in crude oil stockpiles, while gasoline stocks plummeted by nearly ten times more than expected. While traders were expecting crude oil inventories to rise by 2.1 million barrels, the actual build was more than 500K less at 1.577 million barrels. In spite of the smaller than expected build, crude oil inventories have now risen for seven straight weeks and are right near their highs relative to average levels at the current time of year.
While crude oil inventories rose modestly this week, gasoline inventories saw a sharp decline. While traders were expecting gasoline stocks to fall by 400K barrels, the actual decline was 3.755 million. That was the largest weekly decline in gasoline stockpiles since August. As shown in the top chart below, while it is normal for gasoline stocks to decline at this time of year, this week's decline was much larger than the seasonal average.