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May 16, 2022, 3:15 p.m. EDT

Oil ends higher as gasoline futures soar to another all-time high

By William Watts

Oil futures erased early losses, ending strongly higher Monday as tight supplies allowed gasoline to continue a push into record territory.

Investors also weighed a loosening of COVID-19 restrictions in Shanghai versus economic data that underlined demand fears tied to the nation’s lockdown policies.

Price action

  • West Texas Intermediate crude for June delivery (NYM:CL.1) (NYM:CL00) rose $3.71, or 3.4%, to close at $114.20 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

  • July Brent crude , the global benchmark, gained $2.69, or 2.4%, settling at $114.24 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe.

  • June natural gas rose 3.8% to finish at $7.956 per million British thermal units.

  • June gasoline jumped 1.6% to close at $4.0229 a gallon after ending Friday at a record, while June heating oil fell 0.4% to $3.9075 a gallon.

Market drivers

Oil futures surged over 4% on Friday to turn positive for the week. The push higher by the petroleum complex was led by gasoline futures, which ended at a record. Gasoline extended its push into record territory on Monday.

“The continuous inventory withdrawal over the past few weeks has pushed U.S. gasoline stocks to levels significantly below the five-yr average at this point in the season and reflects acute supply tightness,” said Warren Patterson, head of commodities strategy at ING, in a note. “Refineries increased operating rates last week to improve supply; however, a shortfall persists.”

Earlier weakness was tied to the economic data out of China. The National Bureau of Statistics said that retail sales fell 11.1% on year in April, widening from a drop of 3.5% in March. Economists polled by The Wall Street Journal had looked for a 5.4% decline. China’s industrial production also unexpectedly dropped, falling 2.9% from a year earlier in April, after a 5% on-year increase in March, coming in well below the 1% growth anticipated by surveyed economists.

Concerns around China and its consumption levels have served as a partial counterweight to supply worries that have been amplified by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Meanwhile, Shanghai allowed supermarkets, malls and restaurants to reopen in limited capacity on Monday.

Link to MarketWatch's Slice.