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NEW YORK, Jan 22 (Reuters) - U.S. crude oil inventories had their largest weekly build since 2001, surpassing expectations as refineries reduced production, while gasoline stocks increased and distillate inventories fell, data from the Energy Information Administration showed on Thursday.
Last week’s surge in U.S. crude oil stocks left them at the highest level for this time of year in at least the last 80 years, according to the EIA.
Crude inventories rose 10.1 million barrels to 397.9 million barrels in the week to Jan. 16, compared with analysts’ expectations for an increase of 2.6 million barrels.
“That was a massive build,” said Tariq Zahir, an analyst at Tyche Capital Advisors. “I think we’re going to break the lows here, if not today, then by the end of the week.”
A strong dollar in the wake of the European Central Bank announcement earlier Thursday to start buying government bonds may also provide headwinds for prices, he said.
Crude futures extended losses after the EIA data was released.
Brent crude for March delivery was down 48 cents at $48.55 a barrel at 11:27 a.m. EST (1627 GMT). U.S. March crude was down $1.18 at $46.60 a barrel.
Crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub rose 2.9 million barrels, EIA said.
Much of the crude build was due to an increase in the Midwest, which saw the biggest build since at least 1990, while Gulf Coast commercial crude imports were the lowest also in at least 25 years, the EIA said.
U.S. crude imports fell 274,000 barrels per day.
Refinery crude runs fell 984,000 bpd, as utilization rates fell 5.5 percentage points to 85.5 percent of capacity.
Gasoline stocks rose 588,000 barrels, compared with analysts’ expectations in a Reuters poll for a 1.2 million-barrel gain.
Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, fell 3.3 million barrels, versus expectations for a 250,000-barrel increase, the EIA data showed.
“The decline in distillate inventories continues to be the sole source of support for the complex, although the smallish gasoline build may also provide some support,” said John Kilduff, partner at Again Capital LLC in New York.
Reporting by Robert Gibbons; Editing by Jessica Resnick-Ault and Marguerita Choy