U.S. oil is back with a vengeance to start off 2017, but oil prices were rising even though U.S. crude stockpiles increased for the first time since OPEC implemented production cuts with the intent to rebalance the global oil market.
U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate for February delivery was up 0.8%, trading at around $51.63 a barrel, while Brent crude futures were climbing by nearly 0.9% to $54.60 a barrel at 10:45 a.m. ET.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported a larger-than-expected build in U.S. crude inventories, which jumped up by 4.1 million barrels for the week ending Jan. 6. The build pushed stockpiles up to 483.1 million barrels, meaning domestic inventories are at the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. Analysts had been anticipating a build of approximately 1.2 million barrels.
The EIA data is greater than the American Petroleum Institute's (API) weekly report, which revealed a 1.5-million-barrel-build, sending oil prices lower late Tuesday.
Crude oil imports increased to 9.1 million barrels per day last week. Over the four weeks, imports averaged 8.2 million barrels per day, which represents a 6.3% jump from the same period last year.
Refinery inputs rose by 418,000 barrels per day to 17.1 million barrels per day last week. Refineries operated at 93.6% of their operable capacity last week, the EIA reported.
Meanwhile, motor gasoline inventories increased by 5 million barrels last week. Distillate supplies also increased by 8.4 million barrels, and are above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year.