Oil Prices Fluctuate on Drawback in U.S. Crude Inventories

Oil prices fluctuated during Wednesday trading as a report of lower U.S. crude inventories boosted prices and a higher dollar made the commodity more expensive for foreign traders. 

Immediately following the report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, West Texas Intermediate crude rose by approximately 0.52% to $48.28, while benchmark Brent crude oil was up 0.65%, trading at around $49.44 at 10:30 a.m. ET.

However, prices moved lower just 30 minutes later. WTI was down 0.23%, at $47.92. Brent fell by 0.37% to $48.94.

The EIA said Wednesday that crude inventories fell by 1.3 million barrels for the week ending Nov. 18. 

That still leaves inventory at 489 million barrels, "at the upper limit of the average range for this time of the year," the EIA said in a statement.

Crude oil imports declined to 7.6 million barrels per day last week, and over the last four weeks, imports average 8.1 million barrels per day, which represents a 13.3% increase from the same period last year.

Refineries operated at 90.8% of their operable capacity last week, the EIA reported.

Gasoline inventories rose by 2.3 million barrels last week, and are "well above" the upper limit of the average range. Gasoline production decreased, averaging approximately 9.7 million barrels per day.

Following the report, U.S. integrated oil majors such as ConocoPhillips (COP) and BP (BP) were both gaining slightly during the trading session. 

The ICE U.S. Dollar Index (DXY), which is a measure of the dollar relative to six foreign currencies, rose by 0.6% Wednesday to its highest in a decade. A stronger dollar makes dollar-denominated commodities, like oil, more expensive for foreign traders.

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