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U.S. crude oil inventories down for record 10th week: EIA

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(Reuters) – U.S. crude stocks fell for a record 10th straight week as levels at the Cushing, Oklahoma hub continued to draw down to three-year lows, while gasoline and distillate inventories rose, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.

Crude inventories fell 1.1 million barrels in the week to Jan. 19, compared with analyst expectations for a decrease of 1.6 million barrels.

At 411.6 million barrels, crude stocks were at the lowest since February 2015, and the string of drawdowns that began late November represents a record, according to EIA figures dating to 1982.

Crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub for U.S. crude futures fell by 3.2 million barrels to 39.2 million, their lowest since January 2015, the EIA said.

The steady drawdown in U.S. stocks comes even as production increased again, this time to 9.9 million barrels per day, not far from the all-time U.S. record of 10.04 million bpd set in 1970, and as refining runs declined.

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“The report is mixed, due to the further rise in domestic production to 9.9 million bpd, but the large decline in Gulf Coast crude oil inventories and the continued fairly rapid decline at Cushing, Oklahoma is offsetting,” said John Kilduff, partner at energy hedge fund Again Capital LLC in New York.

Gasoline and distillate demand has been strong, with motor gasoline product supplied over the past four weeks rising 5.4 percent from the year-ago period, and distillate fuels seeing a 15.3 percent increase from a year ago.

Crude prices rose on the data, with U.S. futures gaining 58 cents to $65.05 a barrel as of 10:59 a.m. EST (1559 GMT), after earlier touching their highest since December 2014, while Brent rose 15 cents to $70.12 a barrel.

Refinery crude runs fell 392,000 bpd, EIA data showed. Refinery utilization rates fell by 2.1 percentage points to 90.9 percent of total capacity.

Gasoline stocks rose 3.1 million barrels, compared with analysts’ expectations in a Reuters poll for a 2.5 million-barrel gain.

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