U.S. crude stockpiles fell for the first time in four months as refineries processed a record amount of oil for this time of year, bolstering expectations that a supply glut is ending.
Supplies dropped by 3.88 million barrels last week, the Energy Information Administration said Wednesday. Refiners boosted their operations for an eighth time in nine weeks, while imports of crude dropped to the lowest in almost a year.
“We are going to get more declines in the coming months,” James Williams, an economist at WTRG Economics, an energy-research firm in London, Arkansas, said Wednesday. “There’s more upside potential for prices in the next few weeks.”
Oil has rebounded more than 40 percent from a six-year low in March on speculation a slowdown in output growth will help drain excess supply. Total stockpiles dropped to 487 million barrels in the seven days ended May 1, the EIA said. Supplies are still almost 90 million barrels higher than a year ago.
Inventories at Cushing, Oklahoma, the delivery point for futures traded in New York, fell for a second week to 61.7 million barrels.
Refineries used 16.6 million barrels a day of crude and other liquids last week, up 289,000 barrels from a week earlier. Crude imports dropped to 6.54 million barrels a day, the least since May 16, 2014.
Stockpiles of gasoline increased for a second week to 227.9 million. Those of distillate fuel gained 1.5 million to 130.8 million.
WTI for June delivery lost 54 cents to $60.39 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange at 11:56 a.m. Singapore time Thursday. The contract closed at $60.93 on Wednesday, the highest settlement since Dec. 10.