April 18 - U.S. crude supplies saw their biggest four-week rise since February 2008, putting pressure on oil prices, which is easing concerns higher oil prices could derail the economic recovery. Conway G. Gittens reports.
Traders at the New York Mercantile Exchange are pushing the sell button - sending crude oil prices to lows not seen in about a week. The trigger: weekly inventory data. U.S. crude supplies saw their biggest four-week rise in 3 years thanks to a big build up on the West Coast. That rise is offsetting dwindling supplies in other parts of the energy complex. Gasoline inventories dropped for the ninth straight week; and distillate supplies, like home heating oil, were near a 3-1/2 year low. There's been a lot of concern about the impact of higher energy costs on the economy, but so far the impact seems negligible with consumer spending holding up. Here's one reason why: At around $103 a barrel, the price of U.S. NYMEX crude is up more than 5 percent year-to-date, but down 4 percent compared to this time last year. Analysts say for now, economic uncertainties involving Europe and China are likely to keep price gains in check, barring an uptick in geo-political risk. Conway Gittens, Reuters