Crude oil inventories declined for the third straight week, but after two straight weeks of larger-than-expected drawdowns in stockpiles this week's decline was less than expected. While traders were expecting a drawdown of 3.5 million barrels, the actual decline was modestly less at 2.951 million barrels. While crude oil inventories are no longer near their highest levels of the year relative to average (lower chart), they are still well above normal levels.
Click to enlargeUnlike crude oil, gasoline stockpiles increased by 1.337 million barrels this week, which was slightly below the 1.5 million barrel estimate. As shown in the chart, outside of the first few weeks of the year, gasoline stockpiles have been following the typical seasonal pattern in 2013 pretty closely.