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Heating Oil Prices Move Lower on Weaker than Expected Demand

David Becker
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Heating oil prices edged lower on Wednesday as demand declined and inventories rose in the prior week according to the latest estimate from the Department of Energy. Traders also need to absorb a new report from the Obama administration, which cleared the way for the first exports of unrefined American oil, which will be allowed to be exported outside the United States. The shipments could begin as soon as August.

Under rules imposed after the Arab oil embargo of the 1970s, U.S. companies can export refined fuel such as gasoline and diesel but not oil itself except in limited circumstances that require a special license.

Heating oil was under pressure following the Energy Information Administration released its estimate on oil inventories. According to the EIA, U.S. commercial crude oil inventories increased by 1.7 million barrels from the previous week. Gasoline inventories increased by 0.7 million barrels last week, and are in the middle of the average range. Distillate fuel inventories increased by 1.2 million barrels last week but are still near the lower limit of the average range for this time of year.

On the demand front, total product demand over the last four-week period averaged 18.5 million barrels per day, down by 0.2% from the same period last year. Over the last four weeks, gasoline demand averaged about 9.0 million barrels per day, up by 1.7% from the same period last year. Distillate fuel demand averaged 3.9 million barrels per day over the last four weeks, down by 1.5% from the same period last year. Jet fuel demand on the other hand is up 4.2% compared to the same four-week period last year.

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