NEW YORK, April 20 (Reuters) - U.S. crude oil inventories rose slightly less than expected last week, while distillate stockpiles posted an unexpected and huge drawdown, data from the Energy Information Administration showed on Wednesday.
Crude inventories rose 2.1 million barrels in the week to April 15, compared with analysts' expectations for an increase of 2.4 million barrels.
Crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub for U.S. crude futures fell 248,000 barrels, EIA said.
Brent and U.S. crude futures both rose after the data, with Brent reversing losses and turning positive.
"Distillates are the standout bullish element of the report and gasoline is the disappointment," said Matt Smith, director of commodity research at New York-headquartered energy data provider ClipperData. "Distillate throughput jumped last week, meaning demand is only down 0.7 percent on the 4-week moving average."
Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, fell 3.6 million barrels, versus expectations for a 304,000-barrel increase, the EIA data showed.
"This pocket of demand might be a bright spot in terms of helping to sop up some of the global glut of diesel," said David Thompson, executive vice-president at energy-specialized commodities broker Powerhouse in Washington.
Gasoline stocks fell 110,000 barrels, far less than the 1.2 million-barrel drawdown forecast.
Refinery crude runs rose 163,000 barrels per day, as utilization rates inched up 0.2 percentage point to 89.4 percent of total capacity.
U.S. crude imports rose 247,000 bpd.
"PADD 3 crude stocks unchanged on a modestly large reduction in imports into P3 and a reduction in run rates in P3," said Dominick Chirichella, senior partner at the Energy Management Institute in New York.
(Reporting By Jessica Resnick-Ault; Editing by Marguerita Choy)
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