James Hyerczyk
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WTI and Brent Crude Oil

U.S. West Texas Intermediate and international-benchmark Brent crude oil futures are edging lower early Wednesday on concerns that U.S. fuel demand may not recover as quickly as expected amid stalled talks on an economic stimulus package, overshadowing a bigger-than-expected drawdown in U.S. crude stocks in a private industry report.

At 05:35 GMT, October WTI crude oil futures are trading $42.86, down $0.26 or -0.60% and December Brent crude oil is at $46.20, down $0.29 or -0.62%.

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The range is tight and volume is well below average with investors keeping one eye on the key OPEC+ ministerial meeting later in the day, and the other eye on a U.S. government weekly inventories report, due to be released at 14:30 GMT.

American Petroleum Institute Weekly Inventories Report

The API reported Tuesday a draw in crude oil inventories of 4.264 million barrels for the week-ending August 14. Analysts had predicted a modest inventory draw of 2.670-million barrels.

The API also reported a build of 4.991 million barrels of gasoline for the week ending August 14. Analysts were looking for a 1.057-million barrel draw for the week.

Distillate inventories were down by 964,000 barrels for the week. Cushing inventory fell by a modest 590,000 barrels.


OPEC+ Ministerial Panel Meeting

Investors are anxiously awaiting news from Wednesday’s meeting of a ministerial panel of OPEC+, which is set to review adherence to a previously agreed deal on oil output cuts.

Compliance with the cuts stood at 95-97% in July, according to OPEC+ sources and a draft report reviewed by Reuters on Monday. OPEC+ eased their cuts in August to 7.7 million barrels per day (bpd) from 9.7 million bpd previously.

Daily Forecast

The price action the past two weeks suggests investors are struggling to push this market into new 5-month high territory as demand concerns remain tied to the coronavirus worries as OPEC returns more barrels to the market this month.

The delay in the new U.S. government stimulus program could also weigh on demand since less money will be in the hands of gasoline consumers. Furthermore, the U.S. jobless rate remains high, meaning that fewer workers are driving to work. Reduced airline traffic is also a major concern. Finally, the U.S. summer season is rapidly coming to an end and gasoline inventories are extremely high.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Energy Information Administration will release its weekly inventories report at 14:30 GMT. It is expected to show a 2.9 million barrel draw in crude oil, but the main focus will be on the fuel numbers.

In the API report on Tuesday, a large build in gasoline inventories offset a modest draw in crude oil inventories, cooling bullish sentiment in the markets. If the EIA report delivers the same news then look for an even steeper decline.

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.

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