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U.S. crude stocks down, fuel inventories rise

U.S. crude oil stockpiles that include the Strategic Petroleum Reserve fell for the 11th straight week as refiners ramped up output, but fuel inventories grew sharply due to weak consumer demand, the Energy Information Administration said.

Crude inventories that exclude the SPR fell by 5.2 million barrels in the week to June 4 to 474 million barrels, the third consecutive weekly drop, as refiners have boosted output as the economy recovers after the COVID-19 pandemic and in anticipation of more summer driving.

However, fuel stocks were up sharply, as demand was weak in the most recent week, with the product supplied falling to 17.7 MMbpd vs 19.1 million the week before.

Many people already had fuel because gasoline buyers across the U.S. East Coast hoarded supplies after the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack shut the nation's largest fuel line for several days. Fuel demand also took a hit from thunderstorms up and down the coast during the Memorial Day weekend.

"These are lame demand numbers," said Robert Yawger, director of energy futures at Mizuho. "It seems the gasoline build is largely a function of the miserable weather we had Memorial Day weekend. It was pouring out, there was nowhere to go."

U.S. gasoline stocks rose by 7 million barrels in the week to 241 million barrels, compared with analysts' expectations for a 698,000-barrel rise. Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, rose by 4.4 million barrels, versus expectations for a 1.4 million-barrel rise.

Futures pared gains after the report. U.S. crude was up 28 cents to $70.33 a barrel as of 10:48 a.m. EDT (1448 GMT) while Brent was 44 cents higher at $72.66 a barrel.

Refinery crude runs rose by 328,000 barrels per day in the last week, EIA said. Refinery utilization rates rose by 2.6 percentage points, in the week.

(Corrects to clarify in paragraphs 1-2 that crude stocks which fell for 11 weeks included SPR)

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