NEW YORK, April 24 U.S. crude stocks rose last week as crude imports increased, and gasoline inventories fell by nearly 4 million barrels as refineries cut utilization rates, government data from the Energy Information Administration showed on Wednesday.
Crude inventories rose by 947,000 barrels to 388.59 million barrels in the week to April 19, compared with analysts' expectations for a larger rise of 1.5 million barrels.
U.S. crude imports rose by 131,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 7.52 million bpd last week, EIA said.
Gasoline stocks fell sharply last week as plant utilization dropped, by 2.8 percentage points to 83.5 percent of total capacity. Analysts had expected a rise in refinery utilization of 0.3 percentage point in a Reuters poll.
U.S. gasoline stocks dropped 3.93 million barrels, compared with analysts' expectations for a smaller decline of 200,000 barrels.
Four-week average gasoline demand fell 1.7 percent from year-ago levels, the EIA reported.
Distillate fuels, which include diesel and heating oil, rose 97,000 barrels, compared with expectations for a rise of 300,000 barrels.
U.S. oil futures pared earlier gains after the data. By 10:35 a.m. EDT (1435 GMT) they were up 90 cents a barrel at $90.08. Before the data, oil had been up by around $1.10 per barrel.
Crude stocks at delivery hub Cushing, Oklahoma, rose 35,000 barrels to 51.18 million barrels.