February 5, 2020 / 4:43 PM / 19 days ago

U.S. crude stocks up, product demand weak: EIA

(Reuters) - U.S. crude stocks rose in the most recent week, while gasoline and distillate inventories fell, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO: Oil pump jacks work at sunset near Midland, Texas, U.S., August 21, 2019. REUTERS/Jessica Lutz

Crude inventories rose by 3.4 million barrels in the week to Jan. 31 to 435 million barrels, compared with analysts’ expectations in a Reuters poll for a 2.8 million-barrel rise.

“Generally speaking, the report probably had nothing shocking enough to ruin the momentum of the big crude comeback that we are seeing today,” said Phil Flynn, analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago.

Oil prices rose sharply on Wednesday on reports that there may be a vaccine for the coronavirus that has killed hundreds of people in China, though the World Health Organization downplayed those reports.

U.S. crude oil was up $1.92 a barrel, or 3.9%, to $51.53 as of 10:58 a.m. ET. Brent crude gained $2.04 a barrel to $56.00 a barrel. Oil prices have tumbled in recent days due to the virus outbreak that has halted most air travel to China and fed worries about the world’s second largest economy.

Refinery crude runs rose by 48,000 barrels per day in the last week, EIA said. Refinery utilization rates rose by 0.2 percentage points, in the week.

Gasoline and diesel stockpiles were down, even as demand continued to slacken. Overall motor gasoline product supplied in the last four weeks was down 3.1% from the year-ago period, EIA said. Distillate product, which includes diesel and heating oil, was off by 12% from the year-ago period.

U.S. gasoline stocks fell by 91,000 barrels in the week to 261.1 million barrels, the EIA said, compared with analysts’ expectations in a Reuters poll for a 2.1 million-barrel rise.​

Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, fell by 1.5 million barrels in the week to 143 million barrels, versus expectations for a 14,000-barrel drop, the data showed.

Net U.S. crude imports rose by 51,000 barrels per day in the last week, EIA said.

Crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub rose by 1.1 million barrels in the last week, EIA said.

Reporting By David Gaffen; Editing by David Gregorio

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