(Reuters) - U.S. crude oil, gasoline and distillate stockpiles fell more than expected last week, as crude imports dropped sharply, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.
Crude inventories fell by 2.2 million barrels in the week to May 4, compared with analyst expectations for a decrease of 719,000 barrels.
The decline in inventories came as net crude imports dropped by nearly 1 million barrels per day to 5.4 million bpd, the lowest one-week figure since late February.
The fall in crude stocks came even as refinery activity slowed in the most recent week and crude production hit a fresh record of 10.7 million bpd. Weekly crude output figures are variable, however, and are often adjusted in monthly data that lags by several weeks.
“This may one of the most bullish reports that I have surveyed - even with domestic production rising to 10.7 million bpd,” said John Kilduff, partner at energy hedge fund Again Capital LLC in New York.
After the data, prices rose across the energy complex before giving back gains. Still, oil was higher in the wake of U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal and reimpose sanctions likely to constrain world supply.
U.S. crude oil futures were off the day’s highs, but were still up 2.7 percent to $70.87 a barrel by 10:41 a.m. EDT (1441 GMT). Brent crude rose 2.8 percent to $76.90 a barrel.
Crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub for U.S. crude futures rose by 1.4 million barrels, EIA said.
Refinery crude runs fell by 75,000 bpd, EIA data showed. Refinery utilization rates fell by 0.7 percentage points to 90.4 percent, pulled down by a decline in Gulf Coast refining.
Gasoline stocks fell 2.2 million barrels, compared with expectations in a Reuters poll for a 450,000-barrel drop. U.S. gasoline futures rose to $2.1674 a gallon, highest since August 2017, and were last up 2.3 percent on the day.
Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, fell 3.8 million barrels, versus expectations for a 1.4 million-barrel drop, the EIA data showed.
“A whopping drop in imports has resulted in a moderate draw to crude stocks, while a drop in both gasoline and distillates inventories round out a broadly supportive report,” said Matt Smith, director of commodity research at Clipperdata.
Reporting By David Gaffen, Stephanie Kelly and Scott DiSavino; Editing by Marguerita Choy