On the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX), crude oil prices for NYMEX prompt-month contracts for Brent and Western Texas Intermediate (WTI) moved away from each other. NYMEX data showed that Brent crude prices increased modestly by 0.2%, whereas WTI dropped by 1% by the last Monday of May 2014 when compared to previous month. This led to a $4 USD/Bbl Brent-WTI spread (the light blue area in the graph above) in May 2014, which is $2 USD/Bbl wider than the April 2014 spread.
While the prompt-month contract for Brent prices increased to $104 USD/Bbl, WTI settled at just above $100 USD/Bbl. It should be mentioned that the past 12-month averages for Brent and WTI on NYMEX are $105 USD/Bbl and $100 USD/Bbl, respectively. Meanwhile, the Brent-WTI spread was $5 USD/Bbl on average over the past year.
WTI prices fluctuated a lot in May 2014, when compared to last month, decreased. In the first two weeks of May 2014, WTI crude dropped while supplies remained at a record seasonal high and the euro slipped against the dollar. In mid-May, U.S. oil prices hit a one-month high after a report from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) indicated that U.S. crude oil supplies had dropped by 7.2 million Bbl in the week ending May 16—the result of decreased crude imports. It should be mentioned that the drop of 7.2 million Bbl was higher than the analysts expectation.
Brent crude traded higher in May 2014 after Chinese manufacturing data showed some signs that the country is economically recovering. China is the world’s second-largest oil consumer.
 Moming Zhou, “WTI Crude Falls with Supplies Near Record High; Brent Over $108,” Bloomberg Businessweek, May 8, 2014, Accessed June 3, 2014, http://www.businessweek.com/news/2014-05-08/wti-crude-falls-on-speculation-supplies-are-ample-brent-drops.
 Associated Press, “Oil Eases But Remains Near $104 a Barrel,” CBS Money Watch, May 22, 2014, Accessed June 3, 2014, http://www.cbsnews.com/news/oil-eases-but-remains-near-104-a-barrel/.
 Grant Smith, “Brent Trades Near 11-Week High on China Factory Data; WTI Steady,” Bloomberg News, May 22, 2014, Accessed June 3, 2014, http://www.businessweek.com/news/2014-05-21/wti-oil-retreats-after-advancing-most-in-six-weeks-on-stockpiles.
Data Sources: ZEMA