Oil ETFs were on the rise today as the price of crude oil jumped. October contracts for West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude were up over 2 percent to more than $107 a barrel and November contracts on Brent crude were up over 1.5 percent to almost $110 a barrel. The result in the ETF market was as one expected, with major crude oil ETFs climbing. The United States Oil Fund LP ($USO), which tracks WTI prices, climbed almost 2.5 percent by mid afternoon, and the ProShares Ultra DJ-UBS Crude Oil ($UCO), which is leveraged 200 percent, showed gains of almost 5 percent. Crude bears, meanwhile, took a hit as ProShares UltraShort DJ-UBS Crude Oil ($SCO), which is also leveraged 200 percent, dropped over 5 percent.
Demand for oil remains high, and looks to stay that way
Prices for crude oil jumped today on two news items. News that the Federal Reserve would not be “tapering” its bond-buying program rippled across the economy, and likely supported expectations for continued high demand in the United States. And the news from earlier in the day confirmed that demand has been much higher than expected.
The Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported that American oil stockpiles fell by some 4.4 million barrels to 355.6 million barrels last week. This significantly outpaced the average estimate of 1.2 million barrels that analysts polled by the Wall Street Journal came up with, and it was much higher than the 252,000 barrel decline that the American Petroleum Institute (API) claimed its data showed yesterday. EIA data also revealed that refiners were working at 92.5 percent of their capacity for the second straight week, representing 16.4 million barrels of crude processed.
"The refiners were running like crazy at a time [their capacity utilization] is usually down," said Kyle Cooper, director of research at Houston energy consultancy IAF Advisors. Demand usually peaks during summer months and declines during the fall. The price jump comes after oil dropped last week when it appeared as though a U.S. military strike in Syria was less likely.