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Crude stocks fall sharply as imports drop

[NEW YORK] US crude stocks fell last week as refineries continued to run down inventories during a seasonally slower period, as distillate inventories fell and imports dropped, the US Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.

Crude inventories fell 5.2 million barrels in the week to Oct 14, compared with analysts' expectations for an increase of 2.7 million barrels.

Oil prices rose on the news, with US crude extending gains to US$51.46 a barrel, up 2.3 per cent. Brent crude gained 2 per cent to US$52.76 a barrel.

"The report was bullish, due to the large drop in crude oil inventories, caused by a significant drop in imports that came in below 7 million barrels per day," said John Kilduff, partner at New York energy hedge fund Again Capital.

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US crude imports fell last week by 912,000 barrels per day. Overall, weekly imports of crude oil fell to 6.47 million barrels per day, lowest since November of 2015.

Mr Kilduff noted that refining demand has been reduced, explaining some of the decline in imports.

Refinery crude runs fell by 182,000 barrels per day, EIA data showed. Refinery utilization rates fell by 0.5 per centage points, hitting lows not seen since April 2013.

Crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub fell by their most since April, dropping by 1.6 million barrels, EIA said.

Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, fell by 1.2 million barrels, versus expectations for a 1.6 million-barrel drop, the EIA data showed.

Gasoline stocks rose by 2.5 million barrels, compared with expectations in a Reuters poll for a 1.3 million-barrel drop.