Energy futures prices posted solid gains Wednesday on the New York Mercantile Exchange, reflecting industry figures showing much lower stocks of gasoline than had been expected.
The American Petroleum Institute said late Tuesday that gasoline stocks were down by 8.9 million barrels. Crude oil stock was down 4.8 million barrels compared to the week before.
“The large drawdown (in gasoline) certainly was unexpected,” said Ed Dellamonte, an analyst in New York with PrudentialBache Securities.
“What this is telling us is that the demand was very, very good,” said analyst Peter Beutel of Rudolf Wolff Energy in New York.
The lower prices already appear to be stimulating demand, he said. “We could have a pretty good driving season.”
The API figures brought opening strength to the market.
“Then, in midafternoon there was the rumor that the U.S. took military action against Libya, causing another spurt (on the oil market),” said Dellamonte. “This was denied and prices came back down, but we were still left with the gains from the API nubmers.”