U.S. crude stockpiles fall despite declining refinery runs - EIA

NEW YORK - U.S. crude oil stockpiles fell for the fifth week in a row even as refinery operating rates eased, data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) showed on Wednesday.

NEW YORK - U.S. crude oil stockpiles fell for the fifth week in a row even as refinery operating rates eased, data from the  Energy Information Administration  (EIA) showed on Wednesday.

Crude inventories fell 1.95 million barrels to 477.4 million barrels in the week to May 29, the EIA said, compared with analysts' expectations for an decrease of 1.7 million barrels. Stocks at the Cushing,  Okla. , crude futures delivery hub fell 983,000 barrels, the EIA said.

The EIA data also contradicted Tuesday's industry data from the  American Petroleum Institute  that showed crude inventories rose 1.8 million barrels last week to 479.8 million.

Crude futures initially recovered slightly from losses after the report, but prices were under pressure ahead of Friday's OPEC meeting where the producer group is expected to keep its production targets unchanged.

"We had a stock drop of almost 2 million barrels, yes, but we've had builds of 10 million barrels in earlier months during the rout, so in perspective, we are still far behind the demand curve," said  Gene McGillian , senior analyst at Tradition Energy in  StamfordConnecticut .


U.S. July crude was down 90 cents at $60.36 a barrel at 11:07 a.m. EDT, having swung from $59.69 to $61.43.

Brent July crude was down $1.32 at $64.17, having traded from $63.74 to $65.40.

Refinery crude runs fell 43,000 barrels per day (bpd) as utilization rates fell 0.4 percentage point to 93.2 percent of capacity, EIA data showed.

Gasoline stocks fell 334,000 barrels, compared with analysts' expectations in a Reuters poll for a 529,000-barrel gain.

Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, rose 3.8 million barrels, versus expectations for a 1.1-million-barrel increase, the EIA data showed.

"The further decline in crude oil inventories and the high refinery utilization rate, despite the slight decline, makes for a mostly bullish report," said  John Kilduff , partner at Again Capital LLC in New York.

"The strong refinery demand and gasoline demand are the key items in the report, creating a bullish conclusion," Kilduff added.

Total product demand over the previous four weeks averaged 19.94 million bpd, up 4.3 percent from the year-ago period.


U.S. crude imports rose last week by 677,000 bpd to 6.93 million bpd.

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