U.S. crude, gasoline inventories extend build to record highs - EIA

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. crude oil and gasoline inventories rose last week to new record highs as imports of crude grew and refineries increased output, data from the Energy Information Administration showed on Thursday.

Used oil barrels are seen outside a garage in Cuevas del Becerro, near Malaga, southern Spain February 16, 2015. REUTERS/Jon Nazca

Crude oil inventories rose 2.1 million barrels in the week to Feb. 12, lower than analysts’ expectations for a 3.9 million-barrel build, to a peak of 504.1 million barrels in the third week of hitting record highs in past month.

U.S. crude imports rose last week by 795,000 barrels per day.

Crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub rose 36,000 barrels, EIA said, setting a new record high of 64.7 million barrels, for the third straight week.

U.S. crude futures pared gains after the data, which was in stark contrast for more bullish numbers from industry group the American Petroleum Institute on Wednesday that reported a 3.3 million-barrel drop in crude inventories. [API/S]

“The negative aspect is overall crude builds, which counter industry figures from yesterday that showed a drop, in the midst of refinery utilization rising,” said Tony Headrick, Energy market analyst at CHS Hedging LLC.

U.S. prices were up 1.1 percent at $30.99 per barrel at 12:33 a.m. EDT (1733 GMT), off an earlier intraday high of $31.98 ahead of the data.

Refinery crude runs rose 338,000 bpd, EIA data showed as refinery utilization rates rose by 2.2 percentage points to 88.3 percent of capacity.

Gasoline stocks rose 3 million barrels, far more than forecasts for a 500,000-barrel gain, to a record high of 258.7 million barrels.

Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, rose 1.4 million barrels, versus expectations for a 1.5 million-barrel drop, the EIA data showed. On the Gulf Coast, stockpiles were at their highest seasonal levels since 2011.

Reporting By Josephine Mason; additional reporting by Devika Krishna Kumar and Barani Krishnan; Editing by Marguerita Choy