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Futures Movers: Oil prices rise, with upside limited by potential U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve release

Oil futures rose on Tuesday, but analysts said upside was limited ahead of a potential release of crude from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

That’s put the spotlight on the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s monthly Short-Term Energy Outlook, which is typically not a big market mover. Analysts said the report is seen playing a role in a decision by the Biden administration on whether to tap the SPR.

“The focus is likely to be on the EIA’s forecasts for gasoline demand and gasoline prices. In its last report a month ago, the EIA was still predicting that pump prices would gradually decline until the end of 2022 and that gasoline would cost a good $3 per gallon in December,” said Carsten Fritsch, commodity analyst at Commerzbank, in a note. “Prices have climbed further in the meantime, however.”

West Texas Intermediate crude for December delivery


rose 82 cents, or 1%, to $82.75 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. January Brent

the global benchmark, gained 44 cents, or 0.5%, to $83.87 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe.

“While the strategic reserve was designed for national disasters threatening national security, it appears as if the administration deems high prices as [a] natural disaster,” analysts at Zaner wrote in a Tuesday note.

In terms of demand, the return of intercontinental travel will “serve to tighten distillate/jet fuel supply, which in turn will put added pressure on an already tight crude oil situation,” the analysts said. They pointed out that supplies of crude at hte Cushing, Okla., Nymex crude delivery hub are already at the lowest level since September 2018.

Traders will get an weekly update on U.S. crude supplies Wednesday, including stocks at Cushing, from the Energy Information Administration. A separate report from the American Petroleum Institute, a trade group, will be released ahead of that late Tuesday.

On average, analysts expect the EIA to report that domestic crude supplies climbed by 1 million barrel in the week ended Nov. 5, according to a poll conducted by S&P Global Platts. They also forecast a fall of 1.6 million barrels for gasoline inventories, but distillate stockpiles are expected to be unchanged for the week.

In Nymex trading Tuesday, December gasoline

tacked on 1.6% to $2.359 a gallon and December heating oil

added 1% to $2.491 a gallon.

Natural-gas futures traded sharply lower, with the December contract

down 6.4% at %5.082 per million British thermal units, following a loss of 1.6% Monday.

Read: Biden administration says it’s studying replacement of Line 5 oil and gas pipeline

Crude prices had finished higher on Monday, with support tied to passage late last week of a $1 trillion infrastructure package by the U.S. Congress and Saudi Arabia’s decision to lift prices on oil exports.

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