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U.S. Gasoline Stockpiles Slump More Than Forecast on Higher Demand – EIA

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U.S. crude oil stockpiles fell unexpectedly last week while gasoline inventories slumped as demand for the motor fuel rose even as refiners ramped up activity after maintenance and outages, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Wednesday.

After six straight weeks of builds, crude inventories fell by 1.5 million barrels to 447 million barrels in the week ended March 8, the EIA said, compared with analysts’ expectations in a Reuters poll for a 1.3 million-barrel rise.

Gasoline stocks fell by 5.7 million barrels to 234.1 million barrels the EIA said, nearly triple expectations for a 1.9 million-barrel draw. Stocks at the U.S. Gulf Coast fell to their lowest since November 2022.

“The data suggests the oil market remains undersupplied… The gasoline supply numbers are of concern because we are headed to the summer driving season,” said Giovanni Staunovo, analyst at UBS.

Finished motor gasoline supplied, a proxy for demand, edged up 30,000 barrels per day to more than 9 million bpd for the first time this year.

Refinery crude runs rose by 390,000 bpd and utilization rates gained 1.9 percentage points in the week to 86.8% of total capacity in the week.

Oil futures extended gains after the data.

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U.S. gasoline futures led the gains, rising 2.6% to $2.7 per gallon by 11:18 a.m. ET (1518 GMT), the highest since September.

U.S. crude was up $1.52, or 2%, at $79.09 per barrel and Brent rose $1.52, or 1.8%, to $83.44 a barrel.

Crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub for U.S. futures also fell in the week, slipping by 220,000 barrels.

Net U.S. crude imports dropped by 241,000 bpd to 5.5 million bpd, their lowest since March 2023.

Meanwhile, distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, rose by 888,000 barrels in the week to 117.9 million barrels, versus expectations for a 150,000-barrel drop, the data showed.

(Reporting by Arathy Somasekhar in Houston Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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