U.S. Oil Inventories Unexpectedly Rise as Refiners Hit the Brakes

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By Dan Molinski

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US crude-oil inventories surprisingly increased last week as refinery activity slowed down, according to data released Wednesday by the Energy Information Administration.

Benchmark US oil prices that were sharply higher before the mixed report was released reduced some of those gains afterward. The Nymex front-month crude contract for June delivery was recently up 3.6% at $106.16 a barrel.

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Crude-oil stockpiles rose by 1.3 million barrels to 415.7 million barrels, and are now about 15% below the five-year average, the EIA said. Analysts surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had predicted crude stockpiles would fall by 200,000 barrels from the prior week.

Oil stored at Cushing, Okla., the delivery point for US stocks, increased by 1.4 million barrels from the previous week to 28.8 million barrels, the EIA said in its weekly report.

US crude-oil production was unchanged from the previous week at 11.9 million barrels a day, according to the EIA.

Gasoline stockpiles declined by 2.2 million barrels to 228.6 million barrels, compared with analysts’ expectations for inventories to decrease by 300,000 barrels from the previous week.

Distillate stocks, which include heating oil and diesel fuel, dropped by 2.3 million barrels to a fresh 14-year-low of 104.9 million barrels, and are now about 22% below the five-year average, the EIA said. Analysts were forecasting distillates inventories would fall by 1.5 million barrels from the previous week.

The refining capacity utilization rate unexpectedly fell by 1.9 percentage points from the previous week to 88.4%, compared with analysts’ forecasts for a 0.4 percentage-point increase.

US oil inventories for the week ended April 29:

Crude Gasoline Distillates Refinery Use EIA data: +1.3 -2.2 -2.3 -1.9 Forecast: -0.2 -0.3 -1.5 +0.4

Note: Numbers in millions of barrels, with the exception of refinery use, which is in percentage points.

Write to Dan Molinski at [email protected]

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Credit: www.marketwatch.com /

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