Crude oil and gasoline inventories both came in below forecasts this week. In terms of crude oil, traders were expecting inventory levels to rise by 1.8 million barrels, while the actual build came in at just over half that (947,000 barrels). Despite the lower-than-expected increase in inventories, however, there have only been four other weeks since 1984 where inventories were higher than they are now.
While oil inventories are still well above average, the cushion for gasoline stockpiles is not nearly as fluffy, especially after last week's sharp decline. While traders were expecting inventories to be unchanged from the prior week, the actual change was a draw of 3.928 million barrels, which is the largest weekly drop in more than a year (April 6, 2012). Earlier this week, we noted that gasoline prices were at a critical juncture, but with inventories dropping by such a large amount it isn't any help for those hoping to see prices drop below $3.50.