U.S. Oil Inventories Rise More Than Expected

U.S. inventories of crude oil increased more than expected last week while stockpiles of gasoline and other fuels declined, according to data released Wednesday by the Energy Information Administration.

Benchmark U.S. oil prices, which were sharply higher before the report was released, remained so afterward but pared those gains slightly. The Nymex crude contract for March delivery was recently 3% higher at $51.45 a barrel.

Crude-oil stockpiles rose by 7.5 million barrels, to 442.5 million barrels, and are still about 2% below the five-year average for this time of year, the EIA said. Analysts surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had predicted crude stockpiles would rise by 2.9 million barrels from the prior week.

Oil stored at Cushing, the delivery point for U.S. stocks, rose by 1.7 million barrels, to 38.4 million barrels, the EIA said in its weekly report.

Gasoline stockpiles unexpectedly decreased by a marginal 95,000 barrels, to 261 million barrels, while analysts were expecting them to rise 800,000 barrels from the previous week.

Distillate stocks, which include heating oil and diesel fuel, decreased by 2 million barrels, to 141.2 million barrels, and are now about 5% below the five-year average, the EIA said. Earlier in the week, analysts had forecast supplies would fall by 600,000 barrels from the previous week.

The refining capacity utilization rate rose by 0.6 percentage point from the previous week, to 88.0%. Analysts were expecting the rate to fall by 0.7 percentage point.

U.S. oil inventories for the week ended Feb. 7:

            Crude   Gasoline    Distillates         Use
EIA data:    +7.5     -0.1         -2.0            +0.6
Forecast:    +2.9     +0.8         -0.6            -0.7

Note: Numbers in millions of barrels, with the exception of refinery use, which is in percentage points.

Write to Dan Molinski at dan.molinski@wsj.com

  (END) Dow Jones Newswires
  02-12-20 1103ET
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