October 23, 2019 / 3:06 PM / 25 days ago

U.S. crude stocks drop as imports slide, refineries boost output: EIA

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. crude stocks fell last week as refineries hiked output and net imports slid to the lowest on record, while gasoline and distillate inventories declined, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.

Crude inventories fell by 1.7 million barrels in the week ended Oct. 18, compared with analysts’ expectations for an increase of 2.2 million barrels.

Refinery crude runs rose by 429,000 barrels per day, EIA data showed. Refinery utilization rates rose by 2.1 percentage points.

“The peak of fall maintenance appears behind us, with higher refinery runs and ongoing low net imports ahead of us,” Matt Smith, director of commodity research at ClipperData, said.

Oil prices rose after the data with both benchmarks up about 1%. [O/R]

Also lending support to prices, net U.S. crude imports fell last week by 873,000 barrels per day (bpd) to the lowest on record. Exports climbed by about 435,000 bpd to near a record 3.7 million bpd.

“The market has been anticipating crude exports would stay robust. The U.S. will try to fill international gaps in supply from exports so we can expect that to remain strong,” said Tony Headrick, Energy market analyst at CHS Hedging LLC.

Gasoline stocks fell by 3.1 million barrels, compared with analysts’ expectations in a Reuters poll for a 2.3 million barrel drop.

Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, fell by 2.7 million barrels, versus expectations for a 2.8 million-barrel drop, the EIA data showed.

Crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub rose by 1.5 million barrels, EIA said.

Reporting by Devika Krishna Kumar in New York, additional reporting by Laura Sanicola, Stephanie Kelly and Laila Kearney; Editing by Alexander Smith

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