By David Gaffen
(Reuters) – U.S. crude oil stockpiles fell unexpectedly last week, while distillate inventories rose sharply, the Energy Information Administration’s data showed on Wednesday.
Crude inventories <USOILC=ECI> fell 884,000 barrels in the week to Nov. 25, compared with analysts’ expectations for an increase of 636,000 barrels.
That came despite a notable increase in stocks at the key Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub for U.S. crude futures, where inventories <USOICC=ECI> rose by 2.4 million barrels, EIA said.
Crude stocks fell sharply on the U.S. East Coast – the biggest weekly draw since May 2004 – to 14 million barrels, their lowest level since July 2015.
“Crude inventories have yielded a modest surprise draw in this week’s report, led by a big drop in crude inventories on the East coast amid lower imports – even though refinery runs also dropped off,” said Matt Smith, director of commodity research at ClipperData.
U.S. crude imports <USOICI=ECI> fell last week by 35,000 barrels per day while refinery crude runs <USOICR=ECI> slipped by 114,000 bpd as utilization rates <USOIRU=ECI> fell by 1 percentage point, EIA data showed.
Oil prices were barely changed, as the weekly data was overshadowed by OPEC’s decision to limit oil output for the first time in eight years.
U.S. crude oil futures <CLc1> were already sharply higher on the day, and last traded up $3.30 a barrel to $48.53 a barrel, a 7.2 percent increase. Brent crude <LCOc1> rose 7.9 percent, or $3.64 a barrel, to $50.02 a barrel.
“The report is fairly neutral; mildly bullish crude, modestly bearish for the products,” Smith said.
Distillate stockpiles <USOILD=ECI>, which include diesel and heating oil, rose 5 million barrels, versus expectations for a 1.3 million-barrel increase, the EIA data showed. Heating oil usage is anticipated to pick up in the next few months as winter sets in across the United States.
Gasoline stocks <USOILG=ECI> rose 2.1 million barrels, compared with analysts’ expectations in a Reuters poll for a 1.2 million-barrel gain.
(Reporting By David Gaffen; Editing by Marguerita Choy)