NEW YORK, March 20 U.S. crude and refined
product inventories fell last week on lower imports, government
data from the Energy Information Administration showed on
Crude inventories dropped by 1.31 million barrels in the
week to March 15, compared with analysts' expectations of a rise
of 2 million barrels. The fall came as crude imports decreased
by 219,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 7.27 million bpd.
The draw in crude stocks was the first in nine weeks,
according to EIA data.
Refinery utilization rose 2.5 percentage points to 83.5
percent of total capacity, EIA data showed, compared with
expectations of a rise of 0.2 percentage point.
U.S. imports of refined products fell last week by 639,000
bpd to 1.56 million bpd.
U.S. gasoline stocks fell 1.48 million barrels, compared
with analysts' expectations in a Reuters poll of a 2.1 million
Four-week average gasoline demand rose 1.5 percent from
year-ago levels, the EIA reported.
Distillate fuels, which include diesel and heating oil, fell
672,000 barrels, compared with expectations for a drop of
800,000 barrels, the EIA data showed.
Crude stocks at delivery hub Cushing, Oklahoma, fell 286,000
barrels to 49.03 million barrels.
U.S. oil futures extended gains after the data. By
10:35 a.m. EDT (1435 GMT) they were up 52 cents at $92.68 a
barrel. Before the data, oil was up around 36 cents per barrel.