NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. crude oil stockpiles rose more than expected to fresh record highs last week as imports ticked higher, while gasoline inventories posted a surprise build as refineries ramped up production, data from the Energy Information Administration showed on Wednesday.
Crude inventories rose 2.8 million barrels in the week to April 29 to 543.4 million barrels, building by about a million barrels more than analysts’ expectations.
Crude stocks on the East Coast and in the Midwest also reached their highest on record since at least 1990, according to the data.
Stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub for U.S. crude futures rose 243,000 barrels.
Crude futures pared gains after the data was released.
U.S. crude traded at $44.13 a barrel, up 48 cents at 10:59 a.m. Eastern, after hitting a high of $44.88 earlier in the session. Brent traded up 23 cents at $45.20 a barrel, after hitting a high of $46.01 earlier.
“If it was a bigger build, I think we’d come off a lot harder, but nothing has changed,” said Tariq Zahir, managing member at Tyche Capital in Laurel Hollow, New York.
U.S. crude imports rose last week by 110,000 barrels per day.
“The fluctuation in the imports is giving some volatility to the net crude oil number every week - that’s giving us variability,” said John Kilduff at Again Capital Management in New York. “The uptick in the refinery run-rate obviously helped with this gasoline build and the strength in diesel fuel looks to be correcting.”
Refinery crude runs rose 139,000 bpd as utilization rates rose by 1.6 percentage points to 89.7 percent of total capacity.
U.S. East Coast refinery utilization rose to the highest level seasonally last week since at least 2010, the EIA said.
Gasoline stocks rose 536,000 barrels, compared with analysts’ expectations a 144,000-barrel drop.
Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, fell 1.3 million barrels, versus expectations for a 83,000-barrel drop, the EIA data showed. U.S. East Coast stockpiles of distillate fuels reached their highest seasonally since 2010, according to the data.
Reporting By Jessica Resnick-Ault; Editing by Marguerita Choy