Commodity Corner: EIA Data Catch Experts Off-guard

Crude oil and gasoline for June delivery plummeted Wednesday on a U.S. Department of Energy report observing larger-than-expected builds for the commodities last week.

June crude oil lost $5.67 to settle at $98.21 a barrel while gasoline fell to $3.12 a gallon—a 26-cent decline. According to the Energy Information Administration, crude inventories rose by 3.8 million barrels last week to 370.3 million barrels. Analysts surveyed by Platts, meanwhile, had anticipated a far lower 1.6 million-barrel week-on-week increase.

In the case of gasoline inventories, EIA reported that total motor gasoline stocks increased by nearly 1.3 million barrels to 205.8 million barrels. Last week's increase bucked a three-month trend and caught the experts off-guard; for instance, Platts' panelists had anticipated a 300,000-barrel draw for the week.

Oil and gasoline peaked at $104.60 and $3.36, respectively, during Wednesday's trading. Conversely, they bottomed out at $97.50 and $3.08, respectively.

Front-month natural gas ended the day at $4.18 per thousand cubic feet, a seven-cent drop from Tuesday's settlement price. Natural gas traded within a range from $4.15 to $4.29.