U.S. crude inventories fall in latest week as oil exports rose

NEW YORK (Reuters) -Crude inventories fell by 6.1 million barrels in the latest week to 493.5 million barrels, exceeding analysts’ expectations in a Reuters poll for a 2.6 million-barrel drop, as crude oil exports rose.

FILE PHOTO: Equipment used to process carbon dioxide, crude oil and water is seen at an Occidental Petroleum Corp enhanced oil recovery project in Hobbs, New Mexico, U.S. on May 3, 2017. REUTERS/Ernest Scheyder

Exports rose to 3.6 million bpd from 3.1 million bpd a week earlier, according to the data for the week ended Dec. 25.

“It was definitely supportive, also a big rebound and surge again in crude oil exports, so that’s what really helped the number,” said John Kilduff, a partner at Again Capital Management in New York. “The decline in diesel fuel demand, distillate fuel demand, signals the end of all of us seeing the Amazon trucks every five minutes on your street, so I think we’re going to see that decline in the post-holiday period.”

Despite the supportive report, crude markets seized on the large distillate build, and turned lower after the data. U.S. crude futures were down4 cents a barrel at $47.96 a barrel by 11:15 a.m. EST (1515 GMT).

Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, rose by 3.1 million barrels in the week to 152.03 million barrels, versus expectations for a 0.5 million-barrel rise, the EIA data showed.

U.S. gasoline stocks fell by 1.2 million barrels in the week to 236.56 million barrels, the EIA said, compared with analysts’ expectations in a Reuters poll for a 1.7 million-barrel rise.

Crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub rose by 27,000 barrels in the last week, the EIA said.

Refinery crude runs rose by 273,000 barrels per day in the last week, EIA said.

Refinery utilization rates rose by 1.4 percentage points in the week.

Net U.S. crude imports fell last week by 764,000 barrels per day, EIA said.

Reporting By Jessica Resnick-AultEditing by Chizu Nomiyama and Jonathan Oatis