It's all OPEC for the next 24 hours. But today on the floor of the New York Mercantile Exchange it was all about inventories. Crude prices rallied after a bullish inventory report from the U.S. Energy Department showed U.S. oil inventories slid by 4.3 million barrels, due to a large drop in crude imports.
The RBOB reformulated gasoline contracts, and heating oil futures jumped, too, after the report showed gasoline stocks fell by 100,000 and distillate fuel supplies declined 500,000 barrels. The decrease in refinery utilization was the other big shocker, down 1.4% to 89.1% capacity. From the data, it appears some refiners still have not completed their maintenance operations and aren't refining heating fuel yet.
Traders were also watching headlines out of Abuja, Nigeria, as oil ministers gathered there for tomorrow's OPEC meeting. It looks like OPEC will not decide to cut production. The group's market-monitoring committee -- which includes ministers from Kuwait, Iran, Nigeria and OPEC's secretary-general -- has said it will advise ministers to fully adhere to cuts they'd agreed to at the last meeting. Even if OPEC decides to reduce output at the January meeting, those cuts may not take effect until March.
Meanwhile here in the U.S., a group of CEOs met in Washington to talk about this country's dependence of foreign oil, often from some unfriendly nations.
FedEx CEO Fred Smith said: "At the same time as our energy dependence has increased, new emerging economies like China and India have put significant demands on the world's petroleum supplies, and these supplies are increasingly found in unstable parts of the world.
Members of the Energy Security Leadership Council aren't arguing it's feasible for the U.S. to be energy independent, but they say it is possible to significantly diminish foreign imports by increasing alternative fuel supplies.
OPEC will be the story of the day tomorrow. We may know the group's decision by the time open outcry session starts at 10 a.m. ET. We'll be watching natural gas prices, too. The Energy Department releases weekly storage figures at 10:30 a.m. The closely watched ICAP EIA Auction estimate is a draw of 159 bcf.