US crude stocks fall for first time in six weeks – EIA

US crude stocks fell for the first time since March

US crude stocks

US crude stocks fell as gasoline and distillate inventories dropped more than expected and crude imports declined.

NEW YORK, May 11 (Reuters) – US crude stockpiles fell unexpectedly last week for the first time since March as imports slipped, US government data showed on Wednesday.

Gasoline and distillate inventories also dropped more than expected, as refining rates fell, data from the Energy Information Administration showed.

Crude inventories fell 3.4 million barrels in the week to May 6, as imports fell an average 5,000 barrels per day, the EIA said. Analysts on average had expected an inventory increase of 714,000 barrels.

Imports from Canada, where a raging wildfire has curtailed production in Alberta’s oil sands region, were 2.953 million barrels per day, compared with 2.924 bpd a week earlier.

“The report has been quickly viewed as bullish with the crude draw just about exactly opposite to what API had: a 3.4 million barrel build,” said Dominick Chirichella, senior partner at the Energy Management Institute in New York, referring to the American Petroleum Institute data released late on Tuesday.

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Crude inventories fell in all regions except for the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub for crude futures, which rose 1.5 million barrels to a new record at 67.8 million barrels, the EIA said.

Markets extended their gains after the data, with U.S. crude futures rising $1.03, or 2.3 percent, to $45.69 a barrel and Brent crude futures up $1.31, or 2.9 percent, at $46.83.

“Cushing inventories did rise, taking away some of the strength of the headline drawdown figure,” said John Kilduff, partner at New York energy hedge fund Again Capital.

“The refinery utilization rate, slightly below, at 90 percent is not all that supportive for crude oildemand, and crude oil imports were not that strong again,” he added.

Refinery crude runs rose 193,000 bpd as refinery utilization rates fell 0.6 percentage point to 89.1 percent of total capacity.

Gasoline stocks fell 1.2 million barrels, compared with analysts’ expectations for a 710,000-barrel drop.

US gasoline crack spreads, a measure of refiners’ profits, jumped nearly 4 percent after the EIA data showed the larger-than-expected draw.

Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, fell 1.6 million barrels, versus expectations for a drop of 1 million barrels, the data showed.

(Reporting by Jessica Resnick-Ault; Editing by Marguerita Choy and Paul Simao)

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