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ICE Brent and NYMEX crude futures slide ahead of EIA US oil inventories data

Oil prices retreated to wipe out most of yesterday’s gains ahead of today’s closely watched inventories update from the US Energy Information Administration (NYSEMKT:EIA).

Back on Tuesday, an inventories update from API (American Petroleum Institute) showed an unexpectedly high increase in crude inventories of 7.195 million barrels last week, while a Platts survey projected a 2 million barrel rise. Gasoline stocks were up 1.552 million barrels, distillate stocks declined by 1.53 million barrels, while refinery utilization rate also fell, moving down from 78% to 77%, reflecting lower demand.

Crude prices declined further after the US Dollar climbed against the euro on today’s disappointing euro zone and European Union Q4 GDP data.

April Brent Crude stood just 6 cents short of US$73/barrel, while US light, sweet crude for March delivery slid to US$74.03/barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

All blue chip oil and gas producers declined today with the sole exception of BP (LSE: BP), which was sitting just above the opening level. Fellow supermajor Shell (LSE: RDSB) posted a marginal gain, as did BG Group (LSE: BG), Cairn Energy (LSE: CNE) and Tullow Oil (LSE: TLW).

Engineering firms Amec (LSE: AMEC) and Petrofac (LSE: PFC) slipped 1.2% and 2.4% respectively.

Midcaps also were in selling mode. JKX Oil and Gas (LSE: JKX) was at the bottom with a 4.2% fall. Dana Petroleum (LSE: DNX) and Salamander Energy (LSE: SMDR) followed with losses of 3% and 2% respectively, while Heritage Oil (LSE: HOIL) was down 1% and Premier Oil (LSE: PMO) and Soco International (LSE: SIA) lost less than 1%.

Melrose Resources (LSE: MRS) went against the tide with a 2.2% climb, while Melrose Resources (LSE: MRS) rose marginally.

Services companies Wood Group (LSE: WG) and Wellstream Holdings (LSE: WSM) were down 2.8% and 1.5% respectively.

Mongolia-focused Petro Matad Ltd (AIM: MATD) was among the top performers in the sector with a 8.4% climb.

Peru, Colombia and Cuba operating oil and gas explorer and producer Gold Oil (LSE: GOO) was in decline with a 4% loss.

Disclosure: The author holds no positions in the company