April 11, 2018 / 3:06 PM / 3 months ago

UPDATE 2-Crude stocks post surprise rise as imports surge -EIA

(Adds further details on refining use, updates prices, paragraphs 5-9)

By David Gaffen

April 11 (Reuters) - U.S. crude stocks rose unexpectedly last week as imports jumped and production increased to another weekly record, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.

Crude inventories rose by 3.3 million barrels in the week ended April 6, compared with analysts’ expectations for a decrease of 189,000 barrels.

Net U.S. crude imports rose last week by 1.7 million barrels per day to 8.65 million bpd. However, the overall four-week average of U.S. imports has remained relatively stable from the same period a year ago.

Weekly production topped 10.5 million bpd for the first time, the EIA said, though the weekly figures are notoriously volatile; EIA monthly figures for December and January put production sharply lower than the weekly estimates.

Refinery crude runs rose by 83,000 barrels per day, EIA data showed. Refinery utilization rates rose by 0.5 percentage points, bringing overall capacity utilization to 93.5 percent for the nation’s refiners, the highest level seasonally since 2005.

“It’s shoulder season, and we’re running through more crude oil in the refineries and the demand for product is also at an all time record,” said Bob Yawger, director of energy futures at Mizuho.

Crude prices dropped immediately after the report, then rebounded as market players focused on escalating tensions in Syria, after President Donald Trump threatened a missile attack following a chemical weapons attack there this week.

Analysts also linked the rally to news of loud blasts in Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh. Yemen’s Houthi forces, who control most of northern Yemen, launched missile attacks on the Saudi defense ministry, Houthi-controlled Al Masirah TV said. Saudi state media said defense forces intercepted a missile over the capital.

U.S. crude rose to its highest level since December 2014.U.S. crude rose 2.4 percent, or $1.54 a barrel, to $67.06, on heavy volume, while Brent crude gained 2.1 percent to $72.56 a barrel as of 11:24 a.m. EST (1524 GMT).

Crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub rose by 1.1 million barrels, EIA said.

Gasoline stocks rose by 458,000 barrels, compared with analysts’ expectations in a Reuters poll for a 1.4 million-barrel drop. Gasoline futures turned negative after the news.

Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, fell by 1 million barrels, versus expectations for a fall of 29,000 barrels. (Reporting By David Gaffen; additional reporting by Ayenat Mersie and Stephanie Kelly; Editing by David Gregorio)

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