U.S. crude stockpiles fall, gasoline builds as refiners boost output: EIA

(Reuters) - U.S. crude oil stockpiles fell sharply last week and gasoline inventories posted an unseasonably surprise large build as refineries ramped up production, the U.S. Energy Department said on Wednesday.

A pump jack is seen at sunrise near Bakersfield, California October 14, 2014. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Crude inventories fell 4.1 million barrels in the week to June 24, the sixth consecutive week of drawdowns and bigger than the 2.4 million-barrel drop forecast by analysts and the 3.9 million-barrel fall reported by industry group the American Petroleum Institute late Tuesday.

Crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub for U.S. crude futures fell 951,000 barrels and imports fell 993,000 barrels per day, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said.

Gasoline stocks rose 1.4 million barrels, compared with analysts’ expectations in a Reuters poll for a 58,000-barrel gain. On the East Coast, gasoline stockpiles rose to record levels.

“The draw in crude inventories was bigger-than-expected but was so the build in gasoline, resulting in a mixed picture on the fundamental front,” said Tariq Zahir, crude spreads trader and managing partner at Tyche Capital Advisors in New York.

Crude prices have a tailwind as equity markets recover from a shock late last week, he said. “Even so, we firmly feel any rally will stall out near the $50 level, as we have seen unjustified gains in previous weeks for gasoline based on the build number we have now.”

Crude oil futures extended gains after the data was released. By 10:55 a.m. (1455), U.S. crude was up $1.26, or 2.6 percent, at $49.11 a barrel and Brent rose $1.05, or 2.2 percent, to $49.63 a barrel.

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Refinery crude runs rose 190,000 bpd as utilization rates rose 1.7 percentage points to 93 percent of total refining capacity, EIA data showed.

Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, fell by 1.8 million barrels, versus expectations for a paltry 14,000-barrel rise, the EIA said.

U.S. gasoline traded at a rare discount to distillate futures for a second time in June, after the EIA data was released.

(This version of the story corrects paragraph nine to say expectations were for a 14,000-barrel distillate increase, not fall)

Reporting By David Gaffen and Jessica Resnick-Ault; additional reporting by Barani Krishnan in New York; Editing by Marguerita Choy