(Adds table, more details, analysts' comments, market reaction)
------ API ------ ------ EIA ------
Stocks Change Change Stocks Change Change
02/05/10 from from 02/05/10 from from
pvs wk yr-ago pvs wk yr-ago Crude 337.6 7.2 -6.6 331.4 2.4 -21.8 Distillate 158.3 -1.5 16.5 156.2 -0.3 12.4 Gasoline 228.8 1.6 14.1 230.4 2.3 13.0 Heating oil 44.5 0.4 6.3 43.5 1.5 6.0 RFG gasoline 1.2 -0.2 0.2 0.6 -0.4 -0.2 Kerosene 43.5 -0.7 3.1 42.4 -0.8 1.6 Crude runs (bpd) 13.3 -0.3 -0.8 13.6 0.1 -0.5 Refinery runs
(Percent) 77.0 -1.0 -4.9 79.1 1.4 -2.5 Product supplied
(4-week average)-----------------------18.9 0.2 -0.9
By Haitham Haddadin
NEW YORK, Feb 12 U.S. crude oil and gasoline inventories rose more than forecast last week while distillates fell much less than expected, showed weekly government data on Friday which analysts said reflected lingering weak demand for refined fuels in the world's largest energy consumer.
"You couldn't ask for a more bearish report. It speaks to the continuing lack of demand in the U.S. market," said Brad Samples of Summit Energy in Louisville, Kentucky.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration said commercial crude oil stocks rose 2.4 million barrels to 331.4 million barrels in the week to Feb. 5, above analysts' expectations for a build of 1.5 million barrels.
Weekly gasoline stockpiles added 2.3 million barrels to 230.4 million barrels, EIA said, broadly exceeding forecasts for a 500,000-barrel build.
The inventory numbers largely supported trade group data from the American Petroleum Institute on Tuesday which showed national crude oil and motor fuel stocks rising much more than expected last week and distillates off by less than analysts had projected.
Stockpiles of distillates, which include diesel and heating oil, were down 300,000 barrels at 156.2 million barrels, according to the EIA, far less than forecasts for a 1.9 million barrel fall.
"I think that the demand numbers are slightly improving, but I don't think (that) changes the picture that you have anemic fuel demand levels and until that changes, the fundamentals that we have remain bearish," said Gene McGillian, analyst at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut.
U.S. distillate demand over the past 4 weeks came in at 3.73 million barrels per day, down a whopping 8.0 percent from a year ago. Total U.S. oil products demand over the last four weeks fell 0.8 percent year on year to 18.91 million bpd.
Heating oil stocks were up 1.5 million barrels at 43.5 million barrels, added the EIA report, which was delayed from its usual Wednesday release after a massive snowstorm closed federal offices in Washington, DC.
"Total (petroleum) product demand, at just below 19 million barrels a day, is 2 million barrels a day below the five-year average level for this season," said Samples of Summit Energy. "Demand has stabilized, just at very low levels."
On NYMEX, U.S. crude prices traded down $1.73 to $73.55 a barrel after the report was released. [O/N]
However, crude futures were already pressured by a stronger dollar and the Chinese central bank's move to raise commercial banks' reserve requirements, raising concerns the move may curb economic growth.
Crude imports were off 84,000 bpd, EIA added.
Crude runs, or demand for crude oil at U.S. refineries, rose by 129,000 bpd to 13.59 million bpd as refinery utilization added 1.4 percentage points to 79.1 percent of capacity, versus expectations for a 0.2 percentage point rise.
"It was a pretty big surprise across the board. There was a big jump on refinery rates too," noted Jason Schenker, President of Prestige Economics in Austin, Texas.
"Looking at the dollar strength in conjunction with these kind of prices bearish inventory numbers could push crude lower," he added.
On Tuesday, trade group API reported that U.S. crude oil inventories jumped by 7.2 million barrels last week, while gasoline stocks climbed 1.6 million barrels and distillates dropped 1.5 million barrels. [API/S] (Additional reporting by Josh Schneyer, Rebekah Kebede, Janet McGurty, Gene Ramos and Robert Gibbons; Editing by John Picinich)
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