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NEW YORK, Aug 7 (Reuters) - U.S. crude oil stockpiles rose last week after nearly two months of declines as imports jumped to their highest since January, while gasoline and distillate inventories also grew as refiners ramped up production to their highest rate this year so far, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.
Crude inventories rose 2.4 million barrels in the week to Aug. 2, compared with analysts’ expectations for a decrease of 2.8 million barrels.
At 438.9 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories were about 2% above the five-year average for this time of year, the EIA said.
Net U.S. crude imports rose last week by 1.2 million barrels per day to 5.3 million bpd, their highest since January, as exports alone fell their lowest since October 2018 at 1.9 million bpd.
Crude production grew 100,000 bpd to 12.3 million bpd, just under its weekly record high at 12.4 million hit in May.
Crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub for U.S. crude futures fell 1.5 million barrels, EIA said.
The oil markets extended losses after the data. U.S. crude futures were down $2.82, or 5.3%, at $50.76 a barrel at 11:39 a.m. EDT (1539 GMT), while Brent crude fell $2.58, or 4.5% to $56.34 a barrel.
“The first build to oil inventories in eight weeks puts further downward pressure on prices amid an already strong sell-off,” said Matthew Smith, director of commodity research at ClipperData.
“The big jump in refinery runs - to the highest point since the last week of 2018 - has not surprisingly translated into builds across the products, further greasing the wheels for today’s sell-off.”
Refinery crude runs rose 786,000 bpd, EIA data showed. Refinery utilization rates rose by 3.4 percentage points to 96.4% of total capacity.
Gasoline stocks rose 4.4 million barrels, compared with analysts’ expectations in a Reuters poll for a 722,000-barrel drop.
Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, rose 1.5 million barrels, versus expectations for a 482,000 barrels increase, the EIA data showed.
In the Gulf Coast region, stockpiles of both gasoline and distillate rose to the highest level on record for this time of year, the data showed. (Editing by Marguerita Choy)