(Updates with price reaction, comment, additional details)
By Jessica Resnick-Ault
NEW YORK, Sept 6 (Reuters) - U.S. crude stockpiles fell more than expected last week, while gasoline and distillate inventories rose, the Energy Information Administration said on Thursday.
Crude inventories fell 4.3 million barrels in the week to Aug. 31, compared with analysts’ expectations for a decrease of 1.3 million barrels. The decline brought stockpiles to 401.49 million barrels, the lowest levels since February 2015.
Stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub for U.S. crude futures rose by 549,000 barrels, EIA said.
“The large crude oil inventory drawdown makes for a bullish report, despite the appreciable gains in refined product inventory levels,” said John Kilduff, a partner at Again Capital Management in New York.
Refiners’ demand for crude oil and drivers’ demand for gasoline remain supportive of the market, with gasoline demand remaining near the highest levels of the season, he said. Still, he cautioned that rising stockpiles at Cushing were somewhat bearish.
U.S. crude futures rose slightly after the data was released, while gasoline futures pared gains owing to the unexpected build.
Refinery crude runs rose by 81,000 barrels per day, EIA data showed. Refinery utilization rates rose by 0.3 percentage point to 96.6 percent of total capacity.
Gasoline stocks rose by 1.8 million barrels, compared with analysts’ expectations in a Reuters poll for a 810,000-barrel drop.
Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, rose by 3.1 million barrels, versus expectations for a 742,000-barrel increase, the EIA data showed.
Net U.S. crude imports rose last week by 500,000 bpd. (Reporting by Jessica Resnick-Ault in New York, additional reporting by Jarrett Renshaw and Stephanie Kelly Editing by Marguerita Choy)