NEW YORK U.S. gasoline inventories last week surged the most since 1993, overshadowing an unexpected slump in crude stocks, data from the Energy Information Administration showed on Wednesday.
Gasoline stocks rose 10.6 million barrels in the week ending Jan. 1 compared with analysts' expectations in a Reuters poll for a 2.3 million-barrel gain. That sent futures for gasoline blendstock to the lowest since 2009.
The data suggested a drop in demand of 1.2 million barrels per day for the motor fuel offset a slight decrease in refinery runs. Gasoline imports remained largely flat in the week.
While gasoline demand typically slows during the year-end holidays, the speed of the decline was unusual as it was the first week-on-week decline of more than 1 million bpd.
"As big as the crude oil drawdown was, the build in gasoline was even more spectacular and crushing to the market," said John Kilduff, a partner at Again Capital LLC.
Crude inventories fell 5.1 million barrels last week, compared with analysts' expectations for an increase of 439,000 barrels, as imports dropped 382,000 bpd.
Crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub for U.S. futures rose 917,000 barrels, to a fresh record high, EIA said.
Crude futures extended their losses as futures for refined products tumbled after the data came out showing far larger-than-expected builds.
U.S. gasoline blendstock futures fell more than 2 percent to $1.16 a gallon after the data was released, while heating oil futures fell more than 1 percent to $1.072 a gallon.
Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, rose 6.3 million barrels, versus expectations for a 2.0-million-barrel increase, the EIA data showed.
Refinery crude runs fell 65,000 bpd as utilization rates slipped 0.1 percentage point to 92.5 percent of capacity, EIA data showed.
(Editing by Marguerita Choy)