For Immediate Release
Chicago, IL - July 17, 2015 - Zacks.com announces the list of stocks featured in the Analyst Blog. Every day the Zacks Equity Research analysts discuss the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets. Stocks recently featured in the blog include the Marathon Oil Corp. ( MRO ), Exxon Mobil Corp. ( XOM ), Halliburton Co. ( HAL ), Chevron Corp. ( CVX ) and ConocoPhillips ( COP ).
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Here are highlights from Thursday's Analyst Blog:
Crude Slips on Iran Export Outlook
The U.S. Energy Department's weekly inventory release showed that crude stockpiles recorded a large drop after two weeks of generous builds. However, on a bearish note, inventories at the Cushing delivery hub rose. Moreover, the report further revealed that refined product supplies - gasoline and distillate - both increased from their previous week levels.
Overall though, the U.S. government data was overshadowed by the impact of Iran's nuclear deal. The commodity slumped to a more than 3-month low as traders priced in the bearish outlook, given the expectations of increased exports from Iran amid the poor demand picture.
As a result, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures closed down 3.1% (or $1.63) to settle at $51.41 per barrel Wednesday, the lowest settlement since Apr 9.
This also prompted investors to reduce their exposure to oil and related support plays. As a result, market heavyweights like Marathon Oil Corp. ( MRO ), Exxon Mobil Corp. ( XOM ), Halliburton Co. ( HAL ), Chevron Corp. ( CVX ) and ConocoPhillips ( COP ) all experienced losses in Wednesday's trading.
Analysis of the Data
Crude Oil: The federal government's EIA report revealed that crude inventories tumbled by 4.35 million barrels for the week ending July 10, 2015, following an increase of 384,000 barrels in the previous week.
The analysts surveyed by Platts - the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Financial Inc. - had expected crude stocks to go down some 1.8 million barrels. A pullback in domestic production and strength in refinery utilization rates led to the steep stockpile drawdown with the world's biggest oil consumer even as imports spiked.
However, crude inventories at the Cushing terminal in Oklahoma - the key delivery hub for U.S. crude futures traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange - edged up 438,000 barrels from the previous week's level to 57.11 million barrels.
Notwithstanding the first weekly inventory decline in 3 weeks, at 461.42 million barrels, current crude supplies are up 23% from the year-ago period and are near the highest level during this time of the year in 80 years at least. The crude supply cover was down from 28.3 days in the previous week to 27.8 days. In the year-ago period, the supply cover was 23.2 days.
Gasoline: Supplies of gasoline were up for the fourth time in 5 weeks, as demand weakened. The modest 58,000 barrels rise - compared to analysts' projections for a 200,000 barrels increase in supply level - took gasoline stockpiles up to 218.01 million barrels. After the latest build, the existing inventory level of the most widely used petroleum product is 1.6% higher than the year-earlier level and is in the upper limit of the average range.
Distillate: Distillate fuel supplies (including diesel and heating oil) were up 3.82 million barrels last week, much higher than analysts' expectations for a 1.3 million barrels rise in inventory level. The increase in distillate fuel stocks - eighth in as many weeks - could be attributed to lower demand. At 141.28 million barrels, distillate supplies are 13.7% above the year-ago level and are in the middle of the average range for this time of the year.
Refinery Rates: Refinery utilization was up 0.6% from the prior week to 95.3%.
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