U.S. crude stockpiles drop, fuel inventories rise

 U.S. crude oil stockpiles fell more than expected last week, while gasoline inventories jumped sharply as refining rates to the highest in over a year, the Energy Information Administration said. 

Crude inventories fell by 3.5 million barrels in the week to April 2 to 501.8 million barrels, compared with analysts' expectations in a Reuters poll for a 1.4 million-barrel drop. Stocks in the Midwest fell to their lowest since March 2020.

U.S. gasoline stocks rose by 4 million barrels in the week to 230.5 million barrels, compared with forecasts for a 221,000-barrel drop.​ With summer driving season approaching, the expectation is that gasoline inventories will soon start to recede, but that has not happened yet.

"The gasoline number was so large that it’s not allowing crude oil to rally despite the draw in crude oil," said Robert Yawger, director of energy futures at Mizuho Securities.

Oil priced edged lower after the report. U.S. crude futures slipped by 50 cents to $58.83 a barrel, while Brent dropped 46 cents to $62.27 a barrel as of 10:44 a.m. EDT (1444 GMT).

Refinery crude runs rose by 103,000 barrels per day and utilization rates edged up 0.1 percentage point, and are now running at 84% of capacity, their highest since March 2020.

Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, rose by 1.5 million barrels to 144.1 million barrels, versus expectations for a 486,000-barrel rise.

Net U.S. crude imports fell last week by 141,000 bpd, while crude production fell 200,000 bpd to 10.9 million bpd. (Reporting By David Gaffen and Laila Kearney Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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