Why is demand suddenly faltering?
Oil prices are stuck in a holding pattern, waiting for more definitive data on what comes next. OPEC compliance is helping keep prices afloat, but rising U. S. oil production is acting as a counterweight.
A new problem that has emerged is the record levels of gasoline sitting in storage. The market has already had to digest the fact that U. S. crude oil stocks were rising, and investors have done their best to explain away the trend. But now gasoline inventories are climbing to unexpected heights.
It would be one thing if crude stocks were rising, perhaps because refiners were going offline for maintenance. But if that were the case, then gasoline stocks would draw down on lower refining runs. But if both crude and refined product inventories are going up at the same time, then there should be some reasons for worry.
In fact, the glut of gasoline is now the worst in 27 years. At 259 million barrels, U. S. gasoline storage levels are now at their highest level since the EIA began tracking the data back in 1990.
This post was published at Wolf Street on Feb 21, 2017.