Refiners may be getting some pricing power as the driving season unfolds. Inventories of gasoline have fallen for 11 straight weeks, down 2.0 million barrels in the latest week (April 27). With the latest data, gasoline inventories have moved into the middle of their historic range, down from the upper end of their range. Inventories are down but refiners aren't producing any more gasoline, at 8.8 million barrels per day in the latest week vs slightly higher rates in three of the four prior weeks. Also pointing to pricing power is a little bit of life on the demand side, measured here by wholesale indications which have been on the rise, to 8.7 million barrels per day vs 8.6 million a month ago.
The distillate story is much the same with inventories extending a long run of draws with a 1.9 million decline in the latest week. And here too demand is improving. Data for crude oil show a fifth straight build, up 2.8 million barrels to 375.9 million. Imports of oil are piling up but refiners have yet to step up production. Oil, near $105.50, is moving slightly lower in reaction to today's report.