(Adds details, adds prices, quotes, updates throughout)
By David Gaffen
April 5 U.S. crude stocks unexpectedly rose last
week to a fresh record high, while gasoline and distillate
inventories fell less than expected, the Energy Information
Administration said on Wednesday, interrupting a recent string
of bullish news for the oil market.
Crude inventories rose 1.6 million barrels in
week ending March 31, compared with expectations for a decrease
of 435,000 barrels. Stocks, which have been steadily building to
record highs this year, once again were at a peak, reaching
535.5 million barrels.
The oil market pared gains after the bearish report, with
U.S. West Texas crude futures up just 22 cents at $51.25
a barrel by 10:54 a.m. EDT (1554 GMT); the contract earlier
touched a high of $51.88 a barrel.
Crude remains on track for its sixth day of gains in the
last seven. Brent crude was up 25 cents to $54.42 a
barrel, also giving up some of the day's gains.
Crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub
for WTI, rose 1.4 million barrels to a record at
69.1 million barrels. U.S. Gulf Coast inventories also jumped,
by 2.7 million barrels, to a peak of 280.9 million barrels, the
"It was a solidly bearish report, especially in relation to
expectations," said John Kilduff, partner at Again Capital in
The refined product drawdowns were about half of analysts'
forecasts in a Reuters poll.
Gasoline stocks fell 618,000 barrels, compared
with analysts' expectations for a 1.4 million-barrel drop.
Inventories of the motor fuel have been declining, and are
now at lower levels than at this time last year, but they remain
Gasoline futures turned negative on the news; U.S. RBOB
futures fell 0.3 percent to $1.7170 a gallon.
Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and
heating oil, slipped 536,000 barrels, versus a 1.0
million-barrel drop forecast, the EIA data showed.
"The pace of decline in refined product inventories ebbed
and will likely reverse with the increased refinery activity,"
Refinery crude runs rose 203,000 barrels per
day and utilization rates climbed 1.5 percentage
points to 90.8 percent of total capacity, EIA data showed, as
plants restart from spring turnarounds.
U.S. crude imports were largely flat, inching
up 61,000 barrels per day, while exports, which have been
volatile, fell to 575,000 bpd from the previous week's 1.01
(Additional reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Marguerita