EIA Crude Inventories Preview: Crude oil back below $41 after mixed API data

Crude oil rose to test $41 yesterday as markets bet on a stronger-than-expected recovery in demand, with the actions of OPEC+ continuing to provide support. It was the highest since March 6th, although crude has today opened below $40.50 and briefly dipped below the $40 handle. Will today’s EIA crude oil inventories data given WTI some direction?

Data yesterday from the American Petroleum Institute indicated a 1.7 million barrel increase in US oil stocks. Analysts had forecast a rise of 300,000 barrels. Even though the data showed a higher-than-expected build, the injection was still the lowest for three weeks. The report also showed gasoline inventories fell, pointing to increased demand for fuel.

Yesterday’s run of PMIs from across the globe has helped reignite hopes of a quick economic rebound:

  • Australia’s services and composite indices unexpectedly leapt back into growth territory with readings above 50, while the manufacturing index printed just 0.2 points shy of the neutral level.
  • The French manufacturing, services, and composite indexes all blew past forecasts to return to growth.
  • PMIs for Germany and the Eurozone, while continuing to indicate a decline in output, rose further-than-expected to signal a slower pace of contraction than forecast.
  • The UK manufacturing sector grew fractionally in June, after the index recovered much further than analysts had predicted. Services and the composite index also bettered forecasts, although they still pointed to a decline.
  • US manufacturing shrank marginally in June, although the reading still beat expectations.

The readings helped improve the demand outlook. This, combined with support from a move towards greater compliance with production cuts from OPEC and its allies, helped crude oil hit three month highs yesterday, before profit-taking forced a retreat back towards $40.

Also supporting oil this week are revised average price forecasts for 2020 from Bank of America Global Research. Its average price forecast for WTI crude oil is now $39.70, an increase of nearly $8 per barrel.