(Reuters) - U.S. crude stocks rose last week, along with gasoline and distillate inventories, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday, as refiners continued to let stocks build in a seasonally slow season for production.
Crude inventories rose 6.5 million barrels in the week to Jan. 27, far exceeding analyst expectations for an increase of 3.3 million barrels.
Crude prices declined briefly after the data and then rebounded as traders focused on other factors. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures were at $53.20 a barrel, up 0.7 percent on the day, or 38 cents, while Brent crude gained 0.9 percent to $56.05 a barrel, up 47 cents.
“Crude prices are still receiving support due to the weakening US dollar index and as markets look ahead to the upcoming OPEC report highlighting the level of compliance by the cartel on oil output cuts,” said Abhishek Kumar, senior energy analyst at Interfax Energy’s Global Gas Analytics.
Gasoline stocks rose by 3.9 million barrels, compared with analysts’ expectations in a Reuters poll for a 1 million-barrel gain. Gasoline demand has been seasonally weak, down 5.7 percent from a year ago over the past four weeks.
That has caused inventories to rise, particularly on the U.S. East Coast, which accounts for about one-third of U.S. gasoline demand. Stocks there hit a record last week, according to EIA data.
“This should continue to pressure refining margins in the coming week,” said Troy Vincent, oil analyst at ClipperData in Louisville, Kentucky.
Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, rose by 1.6 million barrels, versus expectations for a 903,000-barrel drop, the EIA data showed. Overall distillate inventories of 171 million barrels stands at a seasonal high for the century as well.
Crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub fell by 1.2 million barrels, EIA said.
Refinery crude runs fell by 100,000 barrels per day, EIA data showed. Refinery utilization rates fell by 0.1 percentage points.
U.S. crude imports rose last week by 530,000 barrels per day.
Reporting By David Gaffen; Editing by David Gregorio