December 28, 2012 / 5:15 PM / 5 years ago

UPDATE 1-US crude stocks drop modestly, fuel inventories up - EIA

* Gasoline up by 22.7 million barrels over five weeks
    * U.S. crude futures erase gains after EIA data
    * Crude stocks at Cushing up by 2.2 million barrels
    * Domestic oil production highest since 1993

 (Adds analyst comment, details, price reaction)
    NEW YORK, Dec 28 (Reuters) - U.S. oil inventories fell less
than expected last week as imports declined, while stocks of
refined fuels rose, data from the U.S. Energy Information
Administration showed on Friday.
    Crude stocks fell by 586,000 barrels in the week to Dec. 21,
EIA data showed. That was smaller than the average forecast of a
1.9-million-barrel decline in a Reuters poll of analysts.
    U.S. oil imports dropped by 374,000 barrels per day to 7.98
million bpd.
    U.S. oil futures turned lower following the EIA data, which
also showed gasoline demand down 2.8 percent and distillate
consumption down 6.9 percent from year-earlier levels on a
four-week average basis. 
    Crude stocks often drop near the end of the year as oil
companies draw down inventories for tax purposes.
    At the futures delivery hub of Cushing, Oklahoma, crude
stocks rose by 2.21 million barrels last week.
    U.S. gasoline inventories rose 3.78 million barrels last
week, a much sharper gain than the 500,000 barrels forecast by
analysts. Over the last five weeks, U.S. gasoline inventories
have risen by 22.7 million barrels.
    Inventories of distillates, which include diesel and heating
oil, rose by 2.42 million barrels, versus analysts' expectations
for a drop of 900,000 barrels. 
    "The rises in fuel stocks show we are better supplied than
was expected," said Phil Flynn at Price Futures Group in
    U.S. crude was trading down 26 cents a barrels at
$90.61 by 11:40 a.m. EST (1640 GMT). It had been up by around 30
cents a barrel before the data.
    Refinery utilization dropped 1.2 percentage points to 90.3
percent of capacity in the week to Dec. 21, the EIA data showed.
That compared with the average of analysts' expectations for a
decline of 0.3 percentage point.
    U.S. oil production rose to 6.98 million barrels per day
last week, hitting the highest level since 1993.
    The EIA data, typically released on Wednesday morning, was
delayed until Friday this week due to the Christmas holiday. 

 (Reporting by Joshua Schneyer, Selam Gebrekidan and Robert
Gibbons; Editing by David Gregorio and Dale Hudson)
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