Oil Slides on Muddled Picture of Refinery Runs, Crude Builds By Investing.com

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Investing.com – A whopping weekly build checked by an equally stunning collapse in refinery runs left prices a tad lower on Friday and traders searching for clues on direcion in the coming week.

{{8849|U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude} settled down 16 cents, or 0.3%, at $53.52 per barrel.

finished the session down 49 cents, or 0.8%, at $59.42.

For the week, both benchmarks lost about 2%.

Just on Thursday, WTI and gained 1%, or slightly less after the U.S. Energy Information Administration said crude stockpiles grew by 9.3 million barrels last week, more than triple expectations.

But the same EIA data also showed refinery runs at just above 83% for the week, the lowest levels since 2017, surprising the market despite the dip common in the post-summer-driving season. The anomaly, according to those in the know, is caused by extended maintenance at processing plants this autumn as refiners strive to comply with exacting new maritime fuel standards that will come into force in January.

The collapse in the run rates helped WTI and recoup Thursday’s early losses from and eventually close the session higher. The market was up again in Friday’s early trade, but on-again, off-again speculation about a U.S.-China trade deal brought the market back down.

“For now, trade related concerns over a slowed global economic growth path have been pushed to the sidelines as markets await additional guidance regarding U.S.-Chinese trade negotiations,” oil consultant Jim Ritterbusch told Reuters.

Data on China, meanwhile, said economic growth slowed to 6% year on year in the third quarter, its weakest in 27-1/2 years and short of expectations due to soft factory production and continuing trade tensions with the United States.

China’s September refinery throughput, however, rose 9.4% year on year, a signal that petroleum demand from the world’s biggest oil importer remained robust despite economic headwinds.

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