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U.S. crude stockpiles fall more than expected in week: EIA

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

Crude inventories fell by 2.7 million barrels in the week to Jan. 11, compared with analysts’ expectations for a decrease of 1.3 million barrels.

Crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub fell by 743,000 barrels, EIA said. On the U.S. East Coast, crude inventories fell to the lowest level since October, 2014.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures for February delivery fell 52 cents to $51.59 a barrel by 11:13 a.m. EST (1613 GMT). Brent crude futures for March delivery fell 29 cents to $60.35 a barrel.

“Any bullish sentiment from the crude draw has been vanquished by emphatic builds to the products – particularly with gasoline, lifting inventories some 6 percent above the five-year average,” said Matthew Smith, director of commodity research at ClipperData in Louisville, Kentucky.

Refinery crude runs fell by 343,000 barrels per day, EIA data showed. Refinery utilization rates fell by 1.5 percentage points.

Gasoline stocks rose by 7.5 million barrels, compared with analysts’ expectations in a Reuters poll for a 2.8 million-barrel gain. U.S. gasoline inventories rose to 255.6 million barrels, the highest weekly level since February of 2017, EIA data shows. On the Gulf Coast, gasoline inventories rose to 90.96 million barrels, hitting fresh record highs for the third consecutive week, EIA data shows.

Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, rose by 3.0 million barrels, versus expectations for a 1.6 million-barrel increase, the EIA data showed.

“The continued strong rise in oil product stocks is bearish and overshadows the draw in crude oil stocks,” said Carsten Fritsch, senior commodities analyst at Commerzbank.

Net U.S. crude imports fell last week by 1.22 million bpd.

U.S. crude production rose in the week, climbing about 200,000 bpd to a new record of 11.9 million bpd.

Editing by David Gregorio

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