Crude oil prices gained in Asia on Monday as the impact of Hurricane Irma was not as severe as expected so far, but still packed a wallop for Florida even as its intensity was downgraded and as investors eyed China crude buying trends in the wake of a strongly stronger yuan. Hurricane Irma knocked out power to more than 2.4 million homes and businesses in Florida on Sunday, threatening millions more as it crept up the state's west coast, and full restoration of service will take weeks, local electric utilities said. But after Hurricane Irma hit Florida on Sunday morning as a dangerous Category 4 storm, the second highest level on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, it weakened to a Category 2 with maximum sustained winds of 110 miles per hour (177 kph). The yuan gained to its highest level since May 2016 on Monday, a boon for commodity imports priced in dolalrs that are imported into China such as crude oil. Click Read More below for more of the story.
Futures in New York fell as much as 1.3 percent after the data showed a surprise gain in nationwide crude inventories and record-high production, while robust fuel demand depleted gasoline stockpiles by the most since May. Meanwhile, an OPEC committee meeting provided little insight on how output quotas will be split between the group.
Oil has lost about 8 percent this month as concern that a trade conflict between the U.S. and China could hurt economic growth overshadows supply threats from Venezuela to Libya and Iran. Investors are waiting to see how far other members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will offset those output losses, and whether the U.S. will deploy its emergency stockpiles.
The Energy Information Administration reported that U.S. crude inventories rose by 5.84 million barrels last week, confounding most analysts in a Bloomberg survey who forecast a decline. Oil production reached a record 11 million barrels a day. Along with falling refinery-utilization rates, a drop in crude exports to the lowest since April also contributed to the inventory build.
more at source: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-07-19/oil-holds-gain-as-u-s-fuel-inventories-fall-by-most-in-2-months