EIA: Crude Stocks Drop More Than Expected


Dec 20 (Reuters) - U.S. crude stocks fell last week, while gasoline stocks increased and distillate inventories rose, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.

Crude inventories fell by 6.5 million barrels in the week to Dec. 15, compared with analyst expectations for a decrease of 3.8 million barrels. Overall crude stocks, excluding the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve, fell to 436 million barrels, the lowest since October 2015.

Oil prices were relatively stable following the news. U.S. crude futures gained nine cents to $57.64 a barrel as of 10:56 a.m. EST (1556 GMT), while Brent crude was up 25 cents to $64.05 a barrel.

"All in all the report is bullish, given the continued strong draws in crude oil stocks and rather mild builds in product stocks," said Carsten Fritsch, oil analyst at Commerzbank AG in Frankfurt, Germany.

U.S. weekly production rose again, rising to 9.79 million bpd, another weekly record. The all-time U.S. production record of more than 10 million bpd was set in the early 1970s and is based on monthly EIA figures.

U.S. exports bounced in the most recent week, rising to 1.86 million bpd; the four-week average rose to 1.42 million bpd.

Crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub rose by 754,000 barrels, EIA said.

Refinery crude runs rose by 111,000 barrels per day, EIA data showed. Refinery utilization rates rose by 0.7 percentage points.

Gasoline stocks rose by 1.2 million barrels, compared with analysts' expectations in a Reuters poll for a 1.9 million-barrel gain. Gasoline futures rose on the report, even with the build, as overall four-week demand showed an increase of 0.4 percent on a year-over-year basis.

Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, rose by 769,000 barrels, versus expectations for a 870,000-barrel drop, the EIA data showed.

Net U.S. crude imports fell last week by 301,000 barrels per day.

(Reporting by David Gaffen; additional reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)


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