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Crude oil futures rose Wednesday as Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell indicated that interest rates will likely come down this year.

Signs of Rising Gasoline Demand

Crude oil futures rose Wednesday. As Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell indicated that interest rates and signs of rising gasoline demand will likely come down this year. Though the central bank is moving cautiously.

The West Texas Intermediate contract for April gained 98 cents, or 1.25%, to settle at $79.13 a barrel. May Brent futures added 92 cents, or 1.12%, to settle at $82.96 a barrel.

Powell told the House Financial Services Committee Wednesday. That the Fed needs to see “a little more data” before moving on rates. Though he expects the central bank will begin loosening policy this year. As it gains more confidence that inflation is under control.

In prepared remarks, the Fed chairman said the central bank thinks rates have peaked. Lower interest rates typically stimulate the economy, which leads to more demand for crude.

Tamas Varga, an analyst at oil broker PVM, told clients in a note Tuesday that uncertainty surrounding interest rate cuts is “public enemy No. 1” of a protracted oil rally.

“The Fed chair’s testimony and the ECB interest rate decision on Thursday could revive hopes for a June reduction in borrowing costs,” Varga wrote in a research note.

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Source: CNBC

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US crude oil inventories rose modestly last week as refineries ramped up capacity use, according to data released Wednesday by the US EIA.

Rose Modestly

U.S. crude oil stocks rose modestly last week. As refineries ramped up capacity use, according to data released Wednesday by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Commercial crude-oil stocks–excluding the Strategic Petroleum Reserve–were up by 1.4 million barrels, to 448.5 million barrels, in the week ended March 1, and were about 1% below the five-year average for the time of year, the EIA said.

Analysts surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had predicted crude stockpiles would rise by 1.3 million barrels.

Oil stored in the SPR increased by 706,000 barrels, to 361 million barrels.

The EIA estimated U.S. crude oil production at 13.2 million barrels a day, down by 100,000 from the previous week. Crude imports rose by 837,000 barrels a day, to 7.2 million barrels a day, while exports slipped by 91,000 barrels a day, to 4.6 billion barrels a day.

U.S. refineries ran at 84.9% of capacity, up from 81.5% the previous week.

Decreased More than Expected

Stocks of gasoline and distillate fuels decreased more than expected as demand rose. Gasoline stocks were down by 4.5 million barrels, at 239.7 million barrels, and were 2% below the five-year average, the EIA said. Demand for gasoline rose by 547,000 barrels a day, to 9 million barrels a day. Gasoline stocks were expected to decline by 1.4 million barrels, according to the Journal survey.

The EIA estimated U.S. crude oil production at 13.2 million barrels a day, down by 100,000 from the previous week. Crude imports rose by 837,000 barrels a day, to 7.2 million barrels a day, while exports slipped by 91,000 barrels a day, to 4.6 billion barrels a day.

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Source: Market Watch

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