API estimates dim crude rally

Petrol station in Singapore in the Geylang neighborhood; taken August 2018.

Crude prices were under pressure ahead of the Asian open on Wednesday after industry estimates of weekly oil and refined product inventories came in mostly bearish.

ICE Brent crude oil futures were last quoted at US$81.50 a barrel, down 0.37 percent in after hours trade. NYMEX West Texas Intermediate was down 0.35 percent to US$72.03 a barrel. Brent rose 0.83 percent to settle US$81.87 a barrel, while WTI gained 0.28 percent to US$72.28 a barrel on Tuesday.

Crude oil inventories in the U.S. posted an unexpected gain of 2.9 million barrels last week to 400 million, the American Petroleum Institute said on Tuesday. Analysts had forecast a 1.3 million barrel decline. Crude oil inventories at the U.S. oil storage hub of Cushing, Oklahoma, rose by 260,000 barrels.

The API estimates showed gasoline supplies up 949,000 barrels, more than the increase of 788,000 barrel seen and distillates down 944,000 barrels, compared to a 752,000 barrels rise expected.

The industry estimates from API are followed by official data on Wednesday from the Energy Information Administration at 10:30 a.m. U.S. EDT. The API and EIA figures often diverge.

Crude oil had found support on Tuesday after U.S. President Donald Trump repeated a call for OPEC to pump more oil and cut prices and U.S. national security adviser John Bolton said that renewed sanctions on Iran would see “aggressive and unwavering” enforcement.