US crude stockpiles fall less than expected -EIA

US crude stockpiles

US crude stockpiles fell last week, but the decline was smaller than anticipated. Photo: REUTERS/Lee Celano.

US crude stockpiles down, gasoline stocks decreased sharply

By David Gaffen

June 15 (Reuters) – US crude stockpiles fell last week, the government said on Wednesday, but the decline was much smaller than anticipated, while gasoline stocks decreased sharply.

Crude inventories fell by 933,000 barrels in the last week, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported, less than half the 2.3 million barrel decrease expected by analysts.

Overall, crude inventories are down by 11.9 million barrels since the last week of April.

Gasoline stocks fell by 2.6 million barrels, much more than the 243,000-barrel drop expected by analysts in a Reuters poll. Profit margins for refiners on gasoline have declined in recent weeks after a winter where they overproduced the motor fuel, creating a supply glut.

The price of U.S. light sweet crude was steady around $48.70, up about 0.4 percent in late morning trade. Brent crude was just slightly lower.

Crude prices have recently breached $50 a barrel on hope that the glut was easing due to large outages worldwide from Canada, Nigeria and other countries. U.S. rig counts have increased in the last two weeks, however, raising concern that supplies may grow and pressure prices again.

“The renewed fall in domestic production removes some the bearish sentiment from the apparent return of some drilling activities in the lower-cost shale plays,” said John Kilduff, partner at New York energy hedge fund Again Capital.

“With refiners dialing back operations a bit, there may be more demand pressure on gasoline stocks in the weeks ahead. Prices should get some support from the report for a time.”

Crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub rose by 904,000 barrels, EIA said.

Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, rose by 786,000 barrels, versus expectations for a 249,000-barrel drop, the EIA data showed.

Refinery crude runs fell by 100,000 barrels per day. Refinery utilization rates fell by 0.7 percentage point.

U.S. Midwest gasoline stocks drew by the most last week since March 2014, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration released on Wednesday.

U.S. crude imports fell last week by 83,000 barrels per day.

(Reporting by David Gaffen; additional reporting by Barani Krishnan; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli and David Gregorio)

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