Oil slides below $74

By Ben Rooney, staff reporter

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Oil prices fell Wednesday as traders looked past the Federal Reserve's latest policy statement to focus on signs that energy demand remains weak.

What prices are doing: Light sweet crude for March delivery was down $1.04 to $73.66 a barrel.

Click the chart for current oil prices.

What's moving the market: The retreat came despite a government report that showed the nation's supplies of crude oil unexpectedly fell last week.

The Energy Information Administration said U.S. crude stocks fell by 3.9 billion barrels in the week ended Jan. 22. Analyst surveyed by research firm Platts had expected an increase of 2 million barrels.

Gasoline supplies rose by 2 million barrels. Distillates, used to make heating fuel, were up by 400,000 barrels.

Analysts were expecting gasoline stocks to have risen by 1.7 million barrels. Distillates were seen falling by 1.8 million barrels.

But the report also showed that U.S. imports of crude oil and refinery activity both fell last week, highlighting fears about sluggish energy demand.

"The inventory numbers were pretty bearish," said Tom Pawlicki, an oil industry analyst at MF Global in Chicago. "Demand is still lingering at weak levels."

Traders shrugged off the Federal Reserve's decision to hold interest rates steady near zero percent.

Meanwhile, the dollar firmed against the euro and the yen but remained weak against the U.K. pound.

The dollar has recovered significant ground over the last few weeks, with the dollar index climbing 0.3% to 78.63. That's up from a low near 74 in early December.

"We have an extremely robust U.S. dollar," said James Cordier, president of Liberty Trading Group. "I think that is pushing many markets down right now."

In addition to the stronger dollar, Cordier said the oil market "faces a lot of cross winds." Among the main concerns are signs that China will move to cool its robust economy, possible credit downgrades of major economies and reports that OPEC nations are not adhering to production quotas, he said.

"The bullish case is very hard to find in the oil market," he said.  To top of page

Just the hot list include
Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Overnight Avg Rate Latest Change Last Week
30 yr fixed3.80%3.88%
15 yr fixed3.20%3.23%
5/1 ARM3.84%3.88%
30 yr refi3.82%3.93%
15 yr refi3.20%3.23%
Rate data provided
by Bankrate.com
View rates in your area
Find personalized rates:
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 32,627.97 -234.33 -0.71%
Nasdaq 13,215.24 99.07 0.76%
S&P 500 3,913.10 -2.36 -0.06%
Treasuries 1.73 0.00 0.12%
Data as of 6:29am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Ford Motor Co 8.29 0.05 0.61%
Advanced Micro Devic... 54.59 0.70 1.30%
Cisco Systems Inc 47.49 -2.44 -4.89%
General Electric Co 13.00 -0.16 -1.22%
Kraft Heinz Co 27.84 -2.20 -7.32%
Data as of 2:44pm ET


Bankrupt toy retailer tells bankruptcy court it is looking at possibly reviving the Toys 'R' Us and Babies 'R' Us brands. More

Land O'Lakes CEO Beth Ford charts her career path, from her first job to becoming the first openly gay CEO at a Fortune 500 company in an interview with CNN's Boss Files. More

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2018 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2018. All rights reserved. Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor's Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2018 and/or its affiliates.