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By Jessica Resnick-Ault
NEW YORK, Nov 21 (Reuters) - U.S. crude oil stockpiles rose more than expected last week, building for the ninth consecutive week, while gasoline and distillate inventories fell, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.
Crude inventories rose 4.9 million barrels in the week to Nov. 16, compared with analysts’ expectations for an increase of 2.9 million barrels. Total inventories were 446.91 million barrels, the highest level since December 2017.
The last time crude stocks grew for nine straight weeks was between Jan. 6, 2017 to March 3, 2017.
Crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub for U.S. crude futures fell by 116,000 barrels, EIA said.
“The report was somewhat bearish due to the large crude oil inventory build,” said John Kilduff, a partner at Again Capital Management in New York.
Still, he said the drawdown in refined product inventories and jump in refinery activity could signal the end of the recent string of mostly bearish reports.
“Gasoline demand remains strong, and it will only strengthen as we get into the holiday shopping season,” he said.
Crude pulled back immediately after the report but then strengthened, with U.S. crude up nearly 3 percent and Brent futures up 1.6 percent by 11:30 EST (1630 GMT) as attention turned to more bullish data on refined products.
Refinery crude runs rose by 423,000 barrels per day, EIA data showed. Refinery utilization rates rose by 2.6 percentage points to 92.7 percent of total capacity.
Gasoline stocks fell by 1.3 million barrels to 225.32 million barrels, compared with analysts’ expectations in a Reuters poll for a 198,000-barrel drop. The level was the lowest since December 2017. In the Midwest, gasoline stocks fell to the lowest since November 2017.
Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, fell by 77,000 barrels, versus expectations for a 2.8 million-barrel drop, the EIA data showed.
Net U.S. crude imports rose last week by 183,000 barrels per day. (Reporting by Jessica Resnick-Ault Editing by Marguerita Choy and Phil Berlowitz)