U.S. crude, gasoline inventories swell to record highs: EIA

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. crude oil and gasoline inventories jumped more than expected last week to record highs, data from the Energy Information Administration showed on Wednesday.

Unused oil tank cars are pictured on Western New York & Pennsylvania Railroad tracks outside Hinsdale, New York August 24, 2015. REUTERS/Lindsay DeDario

Crude inventories USOILC=ECI rose 7.8 million barrels in the week to Jan. 29 to 502.7 million barrels, compared with analysts' expectations for an increase of 4.8 million barrels, as imports jumped and refiners trimmed throughput.

Nationwide, crude stocks hit a record high for the second week in a row while stocks in U.S. Gulf Coast region last week rose to the highest on record since 1990 when the EIA began tracking data.

U.S. crude imports USOICI=ECI rose 647,000 barrels per day while refinery crude runs USOICR=ECI fell 24,000 bpd as utilization rates USOIRU=ECI fell 0.8 percentage point to 86.6 percent of capacity.

“I didn’t expect to see that big of a build, but it didn’t surprise me,” said Tariq Zahir of Tyche Capital in Laurel Hollow, New York.

Zahir expects the bearish trend to continue.

“We are going to be going into refinery maintenance very shortly,” he said, which will boost crude inventories.

Crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub for U.S. crude futures USOICC=ECI rose 747,000 barrels, EIA said.

The data showing the hefty build pulled crude down initially, but after U.S. crude futures CLc1 dipped below $30 a barrel they recovered quickly, trading at $31.29 at 11:16 a.m..

“The bears are controlling the market, the bulls are only going to go in and try to get a little bit here and there,” said Sal Umek, a partner at the Energy Management Institute in New York.

U.S. gasoline inventories USOILG=ECI also rose to a record high, soaring 5.9 million barrels to 254.4 million barrels, mainly due to Midwest stocks for the motor fuel soaring to the highest level since 1995, EIA data showed. Analysts had forecast a 1.7 million-barrel gain in gasoline inventories.

Distillate stockpiles USOILD=ECI, which include diesel and heating oil, fell 777,000 barrels, versus expectations for a 1.1 million barrels drop, the EIA data showed.

Reporting By Jessica Resnick-Ault with additional reporting from Devika Krishna Kumar; Editing by Marguerita Choy