Crude oil prices edged up in early Asian trading on Thursday after the U.S. Energy Department reported a ninth consecutive weekly drawdown of crude stocks but a surprise build in gasoline supplies.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude for September delivery, the new front month contract from Thursday, was up 2 cents at $45.77 a barrel at 0102 GMT. The August contract expired on Wednesday after rising 29 cents, or 0.7 percent, to settle at $44.94 a barrel.
Brent crude’s front-month contract, was up 5 cents at $47.22 a barrel. The contract, also for September delivery, rose 51 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $47.17 a barrel the previous day.
“Many market participants had expected far larger crude stockdraws during peak runs season in the United States. Clearly these expectations have not been met,” Energy Aspects said in a note.
U.S. crude inventories fell 2.3 million barrels in the week ending July 15, data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration showed.
But at 519.5 million barrels, inventories are at historically high levels for this time of year, the EIA said.
Gasoline stocks rose 911,000 barrels, against a forecast for remaining unchanged, and are well above the upper limit of the average range, the EIA said.
July is considered the peak of a summer when Americans were expected to take to the road and put in record miles with prices relatively low.
Stocks of the motor fuel rose in spite of gasoline output slipping by 168,000 barrels per day and refinery crude runs rising 319,000 bpd as utilization rates edged up 0.9 percentage points to 93.2 percent of total capacity, the EIA data showed.