March 20, 2013 / 2:51 PM / 5 years ago

U.S. crude, fuel stocks fall, imports down-EIA

NEW YORK, March 20 (Reuters) - U.S. crude and refined product inventories fell last week on lower imports, government data from the Energy Information Administration showed on Wednesday.

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 barrel decline.

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.

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