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US Crude Stockpile Surge Raises Concerns Over Slow Demand and Interest Rates
US Crude Stockpile Surge Raises Concerns Over Slow Demand and Interest Rates

US Crude Stockpile Surge Raises Concerns Over Slow Demand and Interest Rates

  • 01-Mar-2024 4:41 PM
  • Journalist: Shiba Teramoto

Crude oil prices experienced a decline, which highlighted a larger-than-expected build in US crude stockpiles. This unexpected increase has fuelled apprehensions about the pace of demand recovery. Simultaneously, the market faces additional pressure from signals suggesting that US interest rates could stay higher than anticipated.

Specifically, Brent crude futures recorded a decrease of 14 cents, equivalent to 0.2%, settling at USD 83.54 per barrel by 0420 GMT. This follows a marginal rise of 3 cents in the previous session. Meanwhile, US West Texas Intermediate crude futures exhibited a 4-cent decline, or 0.1%, reaching USD 78.50 per barrel.

The observed fluctuations in crude oil stockpiles, gasoline, and distillate inventories are intricately linked to refinery operations that fell below seasonal norms. Refiners encountered challenges due to a combination of planned and unplanned outages, impacting their production levels and subsequently influencing inventory dynamics.

Crude inventories surged for the fifth consecutive week, marking an increase of 4.2 million barrels to reach a total of 447.2 million barrels. The larger-than-expected build in stockpiles has heightened concerns among investors about a potential slowdown in the US economy and a subsequent reduction in oil demand. Satoru Yoshida, a commodity analyst with Rakuten Securities, emphasized how significant stockpiles contribute to worries over economic growth and demand. The anticipation of delayed US rate cuts has further dampened market sentiment, as it poses a potential threat to oil demand.

The correlation between high borrowing costs and diminished economic growth underscores the broader impact on oil demand. The prevailing sentiment among traders reflects the cautious outlook, as the prospect of delayed US rate cuts looms large.

Traders have recalibrated their expectations for US interest rate cuts in response to robust economic data, including notable readings in the consumer price index and producer price index. This shift in expectations signifies a more conservative stance, with the easing cycle anticipated to commence in June. This contrasts with previous expectations, where bets were on a March start to the easing cycle in 2024.

The recent developments in the US oil market, marked by an increase in crude oil stockpiles and concurrent declines in gasoline and distillate inventories, underscore the intricacies of the energy landscape. Refinery challenges, both planned and unplanned, have contributed to these fluctuations, impacting inventory levels and market dynamics. The larger-than-expected build in stockpiles has raised concerns about economic growth, oil demand, and potential delays in US rate cuts. As the oil market navigates these uncertainties, the delicate balance between supply, demand, and external factors remains a focal point for market participants and analysts alike.

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