NEW YORK, May 30 (Reuters) - U.S. crude stocks fell last week and gasoline inventories rose unexpectedly, data from the American Petroleum Institute (API) showed on Wednesday.
U.S. crude oil inventories fell 353,000 barrels in the week to May 25, compared with analyst expectations in a Reuters poll for a rise of 600,000 barrels, the API said. The drop in crude stocks was the first weekly reduction reported by the API since the week of April 20.
Gasoline inventories rose by 2.1 million barrels last week. Analysts polled by Reuters on average forecast a drop of 800,000 barrels.
Crude stocks at Cushing, Oklahoma, the delivery point for West Texas Intermediate crude, fell by 557,000 barrels. The fall in Cushing inventories, which had been on the rise since mid-March according to API data, comes after the reversal earlier this month of the Seaway pipeline, which is now transporting crude from Cushing to Houston. The reversal could help to draw down Cushing inventories near record levels and alleviate a glut of crude in the U.S. Midwest.
"The report is somewhat bearish with the large build in gasoline inventories," said John Kilduff of New York hedge fund Again Capital LLC. "The rise in crude oil imports should also weigh on prices, despite the small overall drawdown."
U.S. crude oil prices, already down sharply on the day, fell further after the API released its numbers, trading down $3.36 at $87.40 per barrel in post-settlement trade. Prices settled down $2.94 a barrel at $87.82.
Refinery operations expanded by 1.8 percentage point to 86.5 percent of capacity last week, compared with forecasts for a 0.4 percentage point rise.
Domestic distillate stockpiles fell by 1.3 million barrels, compared with analyst forecasts for a 100,000-barrel draw.