Oil Futures End Below $40 a Barrel

Oil futures ended below $40 a barrel on Wednesday after U.S. government data revealed a sixth straight weekly climb in crude supplies that was about three times higher than the market expected.

Gasoline supplies dropped and demand remained strong, hinting at the potential for a rise in appetite for crude to increase gas inventories.

May West Texas Intermediate crude settled at $39.79 a barrel, down $1.66 or 4%, on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It was trading at $40.55 before the supply data.

May Brent crude on London’s ICE Futures exchange fell $1.32 or 3.2%, to $40.47 a barrel, pulling back Tuesday’s settlement, which was the highest since December 4.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration on Wednesday reported a 9.4 million barrel jump in crude oil supplies to 532.5 million for the week ended March 18. Crude supplies have now posted increases in each of the last six weeks, based on EIA figures.

Gasoline supplies dropped by 4.6 million barrels, while stockpiles edged up by 900,000 barrels last week, according to the EIA.

The EIA data reflected that crude oil stocks total 280 million barrels at the Gulf Coast region, up from 271 million a week earlier. Total domestic oil production edged down by 30,000 barrels to 9.038 million barrels a day in the latest week.

Over the last four weeks, total motor gasoline product supplied was up 7% compared with the same time last year, averaging about 9.4 million barrels a day.

April natural gas settled down by 6.9 cents, or 3.7%, at $1.794 per million British thermal units, as the market expects a report Thursday to show the first weekly increase this year for U.S. natural gas stockpiles.


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