NEW YORK – U.S. crude oil inventories declined far more than expected last week, while gasoline stocks decreased amid robust demand for the motor fuel, data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) showed on Wednesday.
Crude inventories fell 4.2 million barrels to 459.68 million in the week to July 24, more than twenty times analysts’ expectations for a decrease of 184,000 barrels.
U.S. crude imports fell last week by 396,000 barrels per day (bpd). At 2.7 million barrels for the week, that is more than half the week’s decline in total U.S. crude oil inventories.
Crude futures turned higher and rallied after the release of the EIA report.
U.S. crude was up $1.02 at $49 a barrel at 11:13 a.m. EDT (1513 GMT), well above its session low of $47.39.
Brent crude was up 58 cents at $53.88, having dropped to $52.51 earlier in the session.
“The draw in crude stocks brought upward pressure in the market,” said Gene McGillian, senior analyst at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut.
Crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub fell 212,000 barrels, the EIA said.
Refinery crude runs fell by 108,000 bpd, EIA data showed. Refinery utilization rates slipped 0.4 percentage point to 95.1 percent of capacity.
Gasoline stocks dropped by 363,000 barrels, compared with analysts’ expectations in a Reuters poll for a 512,000-barrel gain.
“The report was marginally bullish due to the large crude oil inventory decline and the robust gasoline demand,” said John Kilduff, partner at Again Capital LLC in New York.
Averaging 9.51 million bpd over the past four weeks, U.S. gasoline demand was up 6.2 percent from the year-ago period, the EIA said in its report.
Total refined product demand in the United States during the last four weeks was at 20.09 million bpd, up 3.8 percent from the same period in 2014.
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