U.S. crude, gasoline stocks build, even as fuel demand surges

U.S. crude oil and gasoline inventories rose last week, alleviating a bit of the market's concerns about supply, though fuel demand surged close to record highs, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.

Crude inventories rose by 2.4 million barrels in the week to Jan. 21 to 416.2 million barrels, compared with analysts' expectations in a Reuters poll for a 728,000-barrel drop.

Gasoline stocks rose by 1.3 million barrels last week to 247.9 million barrels, the EIA said, the most since February of 2021. Analysts were expecting a 2.5 million-barrel rise in stocks. Gasoline stocks generally build during the winter, a less busy season for driving.

Overall product supplied - a measure of demand - surged again, putting the four-week moving average at 21.2 million barrels per day, ahead of pre-pandemic trends. The increases have been led by consumption of distillates like diesel, as gasoline use has fallen off modestly in recent weeks.

"Total product supplied is already pretty close to the all time record - there is demand for product pushing up demand for crude and pulling down inventories to these levels. This is leading to very high crude oil prices," said Robert Yawger, director of energy futures at Mizuho. ​

Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, fell by 2.8 million barrels in the week versus expectations for a 1.3 million-barrel drop.

Refinery crude runs rose by 44,000 bpd last week, and utilization rates fell by 0.4 percentage point in the week.

Crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub for U.S. crude futures fell by 1.8 million barrels in the last week, the EIA said.

Oil markets have rallied steadily due to tight worldwide supply, which is being exacerbated by tensions involving producers like Russia. At 10:50 a.m. EST (1550 GMT), Brent was up $1.76 a barrel to $89.96 after briefly touching $90. U.S. crude gained $1.71 to $87.31. 

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