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By David Gaffen
Oct 17 (Reuters) - U.S. crude oil stockpiles rose last week for the fourth straight week, led by a notable increase in inventories at the Cushing, Oklahoma, hub, while gasoline and distillate stocks fell, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.
Crude inventories rose 6.5 million barrels in the week to Oct. 12, nearly three times analysts’ expectations for an increase of 2.2 million barrels.
Stocks at Cushing, the delivery hub for U.S. crude futures , rose by 1.8 million barrels, EIA said.
Prices sunk on the news, with U.S. crude futures slipping through $70 a barrel for the first time in nearly a month. U.S. crude was down nearly 3 percent to $69.82 a barrel, while Brent crude dropped 2.3 percent to $79.46 a barrel. Prices have been pulling back in recent days as inventory levels have risen.
“The report was bearish, given the large crude oil inventory rise. Exports plunged for the week, down almost 800,000 bpd, and that data series has quite variable, of late,” said John Kilduff, partner at Again Capital Management in New York.
While net U.S. crude imports rose last week by 1 million barrels per day, crude exports slipped to 1.8 million bpd. But for the last four weeks, exports averaged 2.1 million bpd, a 33 percent increase from the year-ago period.
Refinery crude runs rose by 77,000 barrels per day, EIA data showed.
Refinery utilization rates remained unchanged at 88.8 percent of capacity. Utilization rates in the Midwest, the second largest refining region of the country, fell to new record lows of 70 percent of available capacity, due to a combination of outages and scheduled maintenance.
Gasoline stocks fell by 2 million barrels, compared with analysts’ expectations in a Reuters poll for a 1.1 million-barrel drop.
Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, fell by 827,000 barrels, versus expectations for a 1.3 million-barrel drop, the EIA data showed.
Reporting By David Gaffen Editing by Marguerita Choy