Oil Prices Up First Time in 4 Days as Market Prioritizes War Risk Over US Stockpile Rise

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 - Sputnik Africa, 1920, 26.10.2023
NEW YORK (Sputnik) - Oil prices rose for the first time in four days, with global benchmark Brent returning above the key bullish level of $90 per barrel as traders braced for the possibility of contagion from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that could disrupt traffic of crude in the Middle East.
The market rebounded despite higher stockpile readings for both crude oil and gasoline in the United States at the end of last week, a situation that would have normally led to lower pricing.
New York-traded West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude for December delivery settled at $85.39, up $1.65, or 2% on the day. WTI had fallen just over 6% in three prior days.
UK-origin Brent crude for December delivery settled at $90.13, up $2.06, or 2.3%. Brent was down nearly 5% over three prior sessions.
"It’s really hard to assign an appropriate war risk premium to crude now because the Middle East oil traffic hasn’t really been impacted by this conflict," John Kilduff, partner at New York energy hedge fund Again Capital, said in a text message to Sputnik. "Yet, concerns of a contagion remain, thus the reversion to risk on a day like this, when the market should probably be lower because of the build in US crude stocks."
US crude oil stocks rose above the consensus of Wall Street analysts, with an unexpected rise at the federal level and at the storage hub tied to the delivery of contracts traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange, a US government report showed on Wednesday.
The build in crude inventories for the week that ended on October 20 came after a drop in exports, the Weekly Petroleum Status Report of the Energy Information Administration (EIA) showed.
An oil refinery is seen with Table Mountain in the background, Cape Town, South Africa, Wednesday, Feb 8, 2012. - Sputnik Africa, 1920, 14.10.2023
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The US crude inventory balance rose by 1.372 million barrels during the week that ended on October 20, according to the EIA, versus analysts' consensus for a drop of 450,000 barrels. The build contrasted with the 4.491 million draw in the prior week to October 13, which was helped by a spike in exports. Last week, crude oil exports fell to 4.833 million barrels per day from a prior 5.301 million.
In addition, there was also a rise of 213,000 barrels specifically at the Cushing, Oklahoma, storage hub that serves as the delivery point for WTI crude futures traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Cushing storage levels have dropped drastically this year, prompting concerns they might reach such critical lows to complicate operations at the storage hub. In the prior week, the storage hub saw a net outflow of 1.005 million barrels.
Higher stockpiles were noted in gasoline, the premier US fuel product, while distillates - a raw material for diesel and heating fuel - saw draws.
On the gasoline inventory front, there was a build of 156,000 barrels versus the prior draw of 2.371 million and analysts’ consensus for a decline of 1.266 million.
With distillate stockpiles, there was a drop of 1.686 million barrels on top of the prior week’s deficit of 3.185 million and analysts’ consensus for a drop of 1.75 million. Distillates are refined into heating oil, diesel for trucks, buses, trains and ships and fuel for jets.