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Oil Slumps Amid Vast US Supply Build, Higher Crude Rig Count

US crude oil futures ended the holiday-shortened trading week below $53, but they are still poised to record a modest weekly gain. The more than 1% drop on Friday came as the US government reported a significant increase in domestic inventories, with demand failing to catch up to supplies. Is this part of a downward correction for the oil market?

March West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures tumbled $0.72, or 1.36%, to $52.41 per barrel at 16:59 GMT on Friday on the New York Mercantile Exchange. US crude prices will settle the week with a 0.7% gain, adding an impressive 8% start to the calendar year.

Brent, the international benchmark for oil prices, is also in the red on Friday. March Brent crude futures slumped $0.63, or 1.12%, to $55.47 a barrel on London’s ICE Futures exchange. Brent prices will also post a weekly boost of 0.8%, bringing its year-to-date surge to 7.25%.

According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), domestic supplies increased by 4.4 million barrels for the week ending January 15. The market had penciled in a drop of 2.5 million barrels. Crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma storage facility dropped by 4.7 million barrels.

Gasoline inventories declined by 300,000 barrels, while distillate stocks advanced 500,000 barrels.

The Baker Hughes crude oil rig count edged up by two to 289 in the week ending January 22. The total rig count jumped from 373 to 378. Since October, the weekly rig count has increased ten of the last 12 weeks. This is an important metric for crude markets since it reflects how active the oil and gas sector is in the US.

Earlier this week, the EIA published its January 2020 Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO), forecasting that crude output will dip 0.2% in 2021 to average a little more than 11 million barrels. It does anticipate that oil production will rebound by 400,000 barrels per day in 2022 as drillers take advantage of prices hovering around the $50 mark.

While crude prices have been on a downward trend, market analysts believe oil could stay around $50 as long as Saudi Arabia refrains from raising production. Earlier this month, Riyadh announced that it would slash production to offset higher output from Kazakhstan and Russia.

The other factor is the US dollar, which, according to market observers, needs to stay weak to support crude prices. The greenback has defied expectations in the first few weeks of the calendar year, holding onto a modest gain. The US Dollar Index (DXY) rose 0.12% to 90.24, from an opening of 90.05, on Friday. A strengthening buck is bad for dollar-pegged commodities because it makes it more expensive for foreign investors to purchase.

In other energy commodities, March natural gas futures fell $0.032, or 1.28%, to $2.465 per million British thermal units (btu). March gasoline futures dipped $0.0054, or 0.35%, to $1.5425 per gallon. March heating oil futures picked up $0.0216, or 1.35%, to $1.5810 a gallon.

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source https://www.earnforex.com/commodities/oil-slumps-amid-vast-us-supply-build-higher-crude-rig-count/

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