The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported today that U.S. crude inventories climbed by 6.5 million barrels; energy analysts were looking for build of 3.289 million barrels. Gasoline inventories rose by 3.9 million barrels against projections for a build of 0.982 million barrels.
The oil market also got figures from Russia saying that the country had cut production by 100,000 barrels a day out of an agreed total cut of 300,000 barrels a day.
And then National Security Advisor Michael Flynn read a statement at the regular White House press briefing saying the Trump administration was “officially putting Iran on notice” that it is paying attention to what it called “defiance” of nuclear agreements with its test launch of a ballistic missile. The launch of a medium-range missile ended in failure when it blew up about 600 miles into its flight.
West Texas Intermediate, which had traded as low as $52.89 in the morning session, rebounded to close at $53.57 a barrel, up 1.44%.
In his first media appearance since the inauguration, Flynn reminded reporters that candidate Trump had called the nuclear deal negotiated with Iran by the Obama administration and other world powers (Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia) and the United Nations, “weak” and “ineffective. “Instead of being thankful to the United States for these agreements,” Flynn said, “Iran now feels emboldened.” In his statement he called the missile launch “provocative.” Flynn did not outline what actions the administration might take and he did not take questions from reporters. In other statements and writings Flynn has characterized Iran as the central player in a global conspiracy of evil and called for military action to limit its support for Radical Islam.
Over at the United Nations Nikki Haley, the new U.S. ambassador, asked for an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council and called for unspecified U.N. action. The nuclear deal prohibits development of ballistic missiles as part of a nuclear weapons program. Following its own logic Iran has said that “the missile issue is not part of the nuclear deal.”
The missile launch comes after an attack Tuesday by Houthi rebels backed by Iran on a Saudi warship off the cost of Yemen.