1 of 3 | Data released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration show the total amount of refined petroleum products supplied to the market, a proxy for demand, moved below pre-pandemic levels. File photo by Gary C. Caskey/UPI | License Photo
Feb. 15 (UPI) -- Energy demand in the U.S. economy may be on the decline given the bloated inventories of crude oil, data published Wednesday by the Energy Department show.
The Energy Information Administration, the statistics office for the Energy Department, showed that total commercial crude oil inventories increased by 16.3 million barrels from last week. At 471.4 million barrels, commercial crude oil inventories are about 8% above the five-year average for this time of year.
Both imports and exports of crude oil declined from week-ago levels. Production-wise, levels of both gasoline and distillate, a refined petroleum product category that includes diesel, declined as well.
That would suggest demand is waning in the U.S. economy, despite recent data from January showing retail sales surprised on the upside and that hiring remained strong.
The total amount of refined petroleum products supplied to the market during the week ending Feb. 10 averaged 15 million barrels per day, some 383,000 bpd less than the average during the previous week.
Analysts use that data point as a proxy for demand and this week's decline puts it below pre-pandemic levels. Total products supplied to the market over the similar period in February 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic hit U.S. shores, was 20.7 million bpd.
While below peaks closer to 9% last year, inflation is still around 6.4%. Consumer-level inflation increased month-on-month in January by 0.5%, compared to a 0.1% increase to December.
Energy prices, groceries and apparel all led to upticks in consumer-level inflation last month.
While inflation has declined for seven straight months, U.S. President Joe Biden said Tuesday "there's more to go" to lower the strains for everyday households.
Commodity prices were trading lower on the day. The price for Brent crude oil, the global benchmark for the price of oil, was down 1.37% as of 11:40 a.m. EST to trade at $84.41. It's down about 2.5% on the week so far.