By Dan Molinski
U.S. crude-oil inventories surprisingly increased last week and gasoline stockpiles rose much more than forecast, according to data released Thursday by the Energy Information Administration.
Benchmark U.S. oil prices that were higher before the mostly bearish report was released held those gains afterward. The Nymex front-month crude contract for February delivery was recently up 0.8% at a seven-year-high $87.70 a barrel.
Crude-oil stockpiles rose by 515,000 barrels to 413.8 million barrels, and remain about 8% below the five-year average, the EIA said. Analysts surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had predicted crude stockpiles would fall by 800,000 barrels from the prior week.
Oil stored at Cushing, Okla., the delivery point for U.S. stocks, fell by 1.3 million barrels from the previous week, to 33.5 million barrels, the EIA said in its weekly report.
U.S. crude-oil production was unchanged from the previous week at 11.7 million barrels a day, according to the EIA.
Gasoline stockpiles climbed by 5.9 million barrels to 246.6 million barrels, compared with analysts’ expectations for inventories to increase by just 2.1 million barrels from the previous week.
Distillate stocks, which include heating oil and diesel fuel, fell by 1.4 million barrels to 128 million barrels, and are now about 16% below the five-year average, the EIA said. Analysts were forecasting distillates inventories would fall by 700,000 barrels from the previous week.
The refining capacity utilization rate fell by 0.3 percentage points from the previous week to 88.1%, compared with analysts’ forecasts for a 0.2 percentage-point decrease.
U.S. oil inventories for the week ended Jan. 14:
Crude Gasoline Distillates Refinery Use EIA data: +0.5 +5.9 -1.4 -0.3 Forecast: -0.8 +2.1 -0.7 -0.2
Note: Numbers in millions of barrels, with the exception of refinery use, which is in percentage points.
Write to Dan Molinski at email@example.com
Corrections & Amplifications
This item was corrected at 12:05 p.m. ET to show that analysts surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had predicted crude stockpiles would fall by 800,000 barrels from the prior week. An earlier verison misstated the figure as 800,000 million barrels.