NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. crude oil stockpiles rose less than expected last week due to a drop in imports, while gasoline and distillate inventories fell as refiners slowed down production, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.
Crude inventories USOILC=ECI rose 919,000 barrels in the week to Jan. 25, compared with analysts’ expectations for an increase of 3.2 million barrels.
Crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub for U.S. crude futures USOICC=ECI fell by 145,000 barrels, EIA said.
“The report was supportive due to the much smaller-than-expected decline in crude oil inventories,” said John Kilduff, partner at Again Capital Management.
Crude oil futures extended gains after the data was released, with U.S. crude CLc1 up 95 cents a barrel at $54.26 by 10:51 a.m. EST (1551 GMT).
Net U.S. crude imports USOICI=ECI fell last week by 1 million barrels per day.
“A precipitous drop in imports has helped stave off another big build to crude stocks,” said Matthew Smith, director of commodity research at ClipperData.
The decline in imports helped offset the impact of a substantial drop in refining activity, he said.
Refinery crude runs USOICR=ECI fell by 586,000 barrels per day, EIA data showed. Refinery utilization rates USOIRU=ECI fell by 2.8 percentage points to 90.1 percent of total capacity, the slowest rate of production since early November.
After eight straight weeks of builds, gasoline stocks USOILG=ECI fell 2.2 million barrels, compared with analysts’ expectations in a Reuters poll for a 1.9 million-barrel gain.
Distillate stockpiles USOILD=ECI, which include diesel and heating oil, fell 1.1 million barrels, versus expectations for a 1.4 million-barrel drop, the EIA data showed.
U.S. crude production was steady at 11.9 million bpd.
Editing by Marguerita Choy