US crude stocks down, but fuels inventories up

US crude oil stocks fell last week while gasoline and distillate inventories rose more than anticipated, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.

Crude inventories fell 4.9 MMbarrels in the week to Jan. 5, compared with analysts' expectations for a fall of 3.9 MMb.

Oil prices dipped on the news before recovering. The decline in crude stocks fell short of industry group the American Petroleum Institute, which reported an 11 million-barrel crude draw on Tuesday evening.

In addition, refining runs fell, pulling back from a 12-year-high in capacity utilization, and stocks of gasoline and distillates like diesel rose.

However, U.S. production dropped sharply, though those figures are not considered as reliable as monthly data, which is released with a lag. U.S. production fell 290 Mbpd to 9.5 MMbpd, the EIA said.

"There must be a special factor at play, perhaps the extreme winter weather in North Dakota, which hampered shale oil production in the Bakken," said Carsten Fritsch, oil analyst at Commerzbank AG in Frankfurt, Germany.

U.S. crude futures were trading 22 cents to $63.19 a barrel as of 10:49 a.m. EST (1549 GMT), while Brent rose 14 cents to $68.95 a barrel.

Gasoline stocks rose 4.1 MMb, compared with analysts' expectations in a Reuters poll for a 2.6 MMb gain.

Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, grew 4.3 MMb, versus expectations for a 1.5 MMB increase, the EIA data showed.

"Refiners should be concerned with the continued increase in gasoline and distillate inventories, which will pressure refining margins," said Andrew Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates in Houston.

Refinery crude runs fell 285 Mbpd as utilization rates fell by 1.4 percentage points to 95.3% of total capacity, EIA data showed.

Crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub fell by 2.4 MMb, EIA said.

Net U.S. crude imports rose last week by 152,000 bpd. (Reporting By David Gaffen; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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