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Energy

UPDATE 1-U.S. crude stockpiles rise slightly, distillate inventories plunge -EIA

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Nov 18 (Reuters) - U.S. crude oil and gasoline inventories rose last week, while distillate stockpiles fell sharply even as refinery utilization ramped up, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.

Crude inventories rose by 768,000 barrels in the week to Nov. 13 to 489.5 million barrels, compared with analyst expectations in a Reuters poll for a 1.7 million-barrel rise.

The build was due in part to a bump-up in production to 10.9 million barrels per day from 10.5 million bpd the week earlier. Weekly production figures are volatile, and this week’s move came as offshore facilities restarted after the latest hurricane to hit the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub for U.S. futures rose 1.2 million barrels in the week to 61.6 million barrels, their highest since May, the EIA said.

Oil prices were higher after the data, maintaining earlier gains. U.S. crude rose 1.1% to $41.90 a barrel as of 11:01 a.m. ET (1601 GMT), while Brent rose 1.7% to $44.48 a barrel. U.S. heating oil futures were up more than 2.3%.

Fuel demand, meanwhile, dipped, as more states impose lockdown orders and as U.S. coronavirus infections hit new records. Winter fuel demand was already expected to weaken, but the drop may be more severe than originally anticipated. Overall product supplied - the proxy for fuel demand - is down 9% year-over-year for the last four weeks.

Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, fell by 5.2 million barrels in the week to 144 million barrels, far exceeding expectations for a 1.5 million-barrel drop, the EIA data showed.

Refinery crude runs rose by 394,000 bpd last week, and refinery utilization rates climbed by 2.9 percentage points in the week, the EIA said.

“Obviously refiners are starting to get worried about the heating oil situation,” said Bob Yawger, director of energy market futures at Mizuho. “They’re cranking up trying to make more heating oil. That’s going to be a big issue moving forward and will burn through some crude.”

U.S. gasoline stocks rose by 2.6 million barrels, compared with expectations for an 87,000-barrel rise. (Reporting By David Gaffen and Laura Sanicola Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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