(Adds additional details, quotes, oil price reaction)
Dec 29 U.S. crude oil stocks unexpectedly rose
last week, while gasoline and distillate product inventories
dropped, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said on
Crude inventories were up 614,000 barrels in
the week to Dec. 23, compared with expectations for a decrease
of 2.1 million barrels.
Oil prices were little changed on the news after a bit of
volatility immediately following the release. U.S. crude oil
futures were up 1 cent to $54.08 a barrel at 11:38 a.m.
EST (1638 GMT), leaving the benchmark just shy of the year high
of $54.51 reached on Dec. 12.
"What seems to be giving this report kind of a bullish tilt
is the fact that we saw pretty a good drawdown in both gasoline
and distillate inventories," said Phil Flynn, trader at Price
Futures Group in Chicago.
Gasoline stocks fell 1.6 million barrels,
compared with analysts' expectations in a Reuters poll for a 1.3
U.S. gasoline futures rose up 0.8 percent to $1.6886
a gallon, edging off earlier highs following the data. Trading
was very thin, however, with less than 4,000 contracts changing
hands, compared with an average of 50,000 a day over the past
Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and
heating oil, fell 1.9 million barrels, versus expectations for a
1.8 million-barrel increase, the EIA said.
Kyle Cooper, analyst at ION Energy in Houston, noted that
sharp declines in stocks across the energy complex show a
tightening between supply and demand, even as crude inventories
"You look at those underlying total inventory numbers and
they were very, very solid. Crude's just a small portion of the
overall complex," he said.
U.S. crude imports fell last week by 374,000
barrels per day.
Crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub
rose 172,000 barrels, EIA said.
Refinery crude runs fell by 101,000 bpd as
utilization rates fell 0.5 percentage point to 91
percent of total capacity, EIA data showed.
(Reporting By David Gaffen; additional reporting by Ethan Lou;
Editing by Marguerita Choy)