January 31, 2018 / 3:41 PM / a year ago

U.S. crude stocks rise as gasoline falls: EIA

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. crude stocks rose more than expected last week, while gasoline and distillate inventories fell, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO - A pump jack is seen at sunrise near Bakersfield, California October 14, 2014. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File Photo

“Strong demand in the major refined products categories is supporting the entire petroleum complex after the data release,” said David Thompson, executive vice-president at Powerhouse, an energy-specialized commodities broker in Washington. Demand for gasoline and diesel remains stronger than year-ago levels, he said.

Crude inventories rose by 6.8 million barrels in the last week, compared with analysts’ expectations for an increase of 126,000 barrels. The increase followed 10 weeks of declines.

Crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub fell by 2.22 million barrels, EIA said.

Refinery crude runs fell by 470,000 barrels per day, EIA data showed. Refinery utilization rates fell by 2.8 percentage points.

“The report was somewhat bearish, with the large crude oil inventory rise offset by another sizeable decline of inventories at the Cushing, Oklahoma delivery hub and a rebound in gasoline demand on the week,” said John Kilduff, partner at energy hedge fund Again Capital. “Refining activity is finally slowing, allowing for oil inventory build, which should persist over the next several weeks,” he said.

U.S. crude prices initially extended losses after the data was released, but then pared losses. WTI crude futures for March delivery fell 38 cents to $64.12 a barrel by 11:18 a.m. EST [1618 GMT]. Brent crude futures for March delivery fell 30 cents to $68.72 a barrel.

Gasoline stocks unexpectedly fell by 2 million barrels, compared with analysts’ expectations in a Reuters poll for a 1.8 million barrels gain.

Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, fell by 1.9 million barrels, versus expectations for a 1.5 million-barrel drop, the EIA data showed.

Net U.S. crude imports rose last week by 35,000 barrels per day.

(This version of the story corrects the headline and third paragraph to reflect that previous week was a stockpile decline not an increase)

Jessica Resnick-Ault in New York; Editing by Andrew Hay

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