US Inventory Surprise Triggers Temporary Decline in Crude Oil Prices
US Inventory Surprise Triggers Temporary Decline in Crude Oil Prices

US Inventory Surprise Triggers Temporary Decline in Crude Oil Prices

  • 05-Apr-2024 2:16 PM
  • Journalist: S. Jayavikraman

The global Crude Oil market has been a story of contrasting forces recently in March 2024. While the overall sentiment remains bullish, with prices reaching a four-month high, a brief period of decline during the week ending March 2024 offered a glimpse of potential downward pressure. Previously, an upward trajectory was fueled by the ongoing geopolitical tensions and production cuts, while the marginal drop was influenced by the sudden hike in the Crude Oil inventories stated by the US EIA.

Several factors initially propelled Crude Oil prices upwards. The ongoing war in Ukraine cast a long shadow, raising anxieties about potential disruptions to global energy supplies.  This fear, coupled with OPEC+'s decision to maintain production cuts, created a scenario of restricted supply meeting and exceeding demand.  Adding to this bullish sentiment was the expectation of a robust economic rebound in the coming months, further boosting anticipated oil demand. However, this upward momentum was converted into a temporary dip due to rising inventories which created demand concerns during this timeframe.  A sudden increase in US Crude Oil inventories reported on March 29th threw a wrench into the works.  According to the EIA data, commercial Crude Oil inventories in the United States, excluding the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, increased by 3.2 million barrels compared to the previous week. This unexpected rise, combined with worries about sluggish gasoline demand, triggered a two-day decline in Crude Oil prices.  The rising inventory levels seemed to be a key factor in this downward adjustment. Henceforth, after a significant climb, prices for both Brent and West Texas Intermediate (WTI) Crude Oil dipped slightly, settling at USD 85.85 and USD 81.40 per barrel respectively. This represented a marginal 0.2% decrease, but it failed to derail the overall bullish trend dominating the oil market.

As per ChemAnalyst, the Crude Oil market is expected to surge further in the upcoming weeks due to the ongoing challenges. Despite this temporary dip, several forces continued to exert upward pressure on Crude Oil prices.  The possibility of interest rate cuts by the US Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank in June fueled optimism.  Lower borrowing costs are generally viewed as a catalyst for economic activity, which in turn could lead to higher energy consumption.  This potential increase in demand down the road helped to counter the immediate concerns raised by the inventory data. Furthermore, ongoing geopolitical tensions continued to cast over global energy security.  Attacks on Russian energy infrastructure by Ukrainian forces and the unresolved conflict between Israel and Hamas kept tensions high.  This uncertainty surrounding potential supply disruptions served as another factor keeping a floor under Crude Oil prices.

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