(Reuters) - U.S. crude stocks fell last week as refineries hiked output, but gasoline supplies, which are already seasonally high, surprisingly increased, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.
Crude inventories fell by 1 million barrels in the week to April 14, compared with analysts’ expectations for an decrease of 1.5 million barrels.
Gasoline stocks were up by 1.5 million barrels, compared with expectations in a Reuters poll for a 1.9 million-barrel drop. Stocks have dropped sharply in the last several weeks and have fallen below levels seen at this time a year ago, but are still higher than where inventories have been in this decade.
Gasoline prices slipped on the news, as reformulated blendstock futures dropped 0.6 percent to $1.7008. Crude prices also fell, despite a draw in crude inventories. U.S. West Texas Intermediate slipped 17 cents to $52.24 a barrel as of 10:49 a.m. EDT (1449 GMT), while Brent dropped 14 cents to $54.75 a barrel.
Refinery crude runs rose by 241,000 barrels per day, EIA data showed, with a sharp increase in Gulf Coast refining activity. Refinery utilization rates rose by 1.9 percentage points.
“A build to gasoline inventories is tilted a little bearish, although a build of 2.5 million barrels on the Gulf Coast was in response to higher refining activity,” said Matt Smith, director of commodity research at ClipperData.
Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, fell by 2 million barrels, versus expectations for a 1 million-barrel drop, the EIA data showed. Distillate stocks reached their lowest levels since November 2015, the EIA said.
Crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub fell by 778,000 barrels, EIA said.
U.S. crude imports rose last week by 56,000 barrels per day.
Additional reporting By Scott DiSavino in New York and Ethan Lou in Calgary; Editing by Andrew Hay