To the surprise of analysts, U.S. oil trade reserves increased last week. According to the U.S. Energy Information Agency's (EIA) weekly report, oil inventories increased by 4.5 million barrels (mb) on July 17 to 536.6 mb, while analysts expected a 2.2 mb drop.
Refineries operated at 77.9% capacity, compared with 78.1% the week before. On the other hand, imports, which fell last week, rose again from 5.56 million barrels per day (mbd) to 5.94 mbd. Exports also increased: from 2.54 mbd to 3.00 mbd.
At the same time, gasoline reserves fell 1.8 mb and oil closed steady. North Sea Brent barrel for September delivery closed at $44.29 in London, 3 cents below Tuesday's close. In New York, the WTI barrel for the month of September, on its first day as a benchmark contract, lost 2 cents to $41.90.