US crude stockpiles fall less than expected; surprise gasoline build – EIA

US crude stockpiles

US crude stockpiles were expected to fall by 3 million barrels last week. NPR.org photo.

US crude stockpiles fell 2.5 million barrels

NEW YORK, July 13 (Reuters) – US crude stockpiles fell less than expected last week, while distillate inventories rose the most since January and gasoline posted a surprise build, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.

Crude inventories fell 2.5 million barrels in the week to July 8, less than analysts’ expectations for a decrease of 3 million barrels, the statistical arm of the U.S. Department of Energy said.

Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, rose 4.1 million barrels – the largest build since the week ended Jan. 8 and much more than expectations for a 256,000-barrel increase, the EIA said.

Gasoline stocks rose unexpectedly by 1.2 million barrels, compared with forecasts for a 432,000-barrel drop.

“A surprising build in gasoline in the peak of U.S. driving season and a very large build in heating oil will set the tone for lower prices as we go forward,” said Tariq Zahir, a trader in crude oil spreads at Tyche Capital Advisors in New York. “The products markets will continue to put weakness in the energy complex.”

U.S. crude oil and product futures extended losses after the data.

U.S. gasoline futures were down nearly 4 percent while ultra-low sulfur diesel slumped 5 percent. The distillate crack spread, a measure of the profit from refining crude into distillates, touched a one-month low.

U.S crude fell $1.63 to $45.17 a barrel, a 3.5 percent loss by 11:14 a.m. (1514 GMT).

Crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub for futures fell 232,000 barrels, the EIA said.

U.S. crude imports fell last week by 522,000 barrels per day to 7.8 million b/d, with U.S. Gulf Coast imports posting its biggest drop since December.

However, over the last four weeks, crude oil imports averaged 8.1 million b/d, 11.2 percent above the same four-week period last year.

Refinery crude runs fell 143,000 b/d, and utilization rates fell by 0.2 percentage point to 92.3 percent of total capacity.

U.S. Midwest refinery utilization last week fell 2.3 percentage points to lowest level seasonally since 2013, the EIA said.

(Reporting By Jessica Resnick-Ault; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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