April 23, 2014 / 4:35 AM / 4 years ago

UPDATE 1-China end-March crude oil stocks down 2.9 pct on month

* Crude stocks drop on lower imports

* Refined fuel stocks down after 3-mth buildup (Adds detail)

BEIJING, April 23 (Reuters) - China’s commercial crude oil inventories at the end of March fell 2.89 percent from a month earlier on lower crude imports, the official Xinhua news agency said on Wednesday.

Commercial refined fuel stocks dropped 2.05 percent from end-February after climbing for three months, Xinhua reported in its oil and gas newsletter China OGP.

Of the total, diesel stocks fell 5.66 percent as demand rebounded on the start of spring ploughing and infrastructure construction, while gasoline stocks gained 1.83 percent and kerosene stocks increased 4.53 percent, it said.

The OGP newsletter does not provide outright inventory volumes, and the government rarely discloses levels of either commercial or strategic oil stocks, making it difficult to gauge real demand in the world’s second-largest oil consumer.

China’s crude oil imports in March fell to a five-month low of 5.54 million barrels per day (bpd), official data has shown, after three months of high inbound shipments and gains in fuel product inventories.

On a daily basis, refinery crude throughput in March fell 5.7 percent from February as refineries scaled back production amid high product stocks.

Reporting by Judy Hua and Chen Aizhu; Editing by Richard Pullin and Joseph Radford

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