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US crude inventories rise unexpectedly as distillate stocks grow

[NEW YORK] US crude stocks rose unexpectedly for a second week last week as distillate inventories jumped, while gasoline stocks sank more than expected, the US Energy Department said Wednesday.

Crude inventories rose by 1.4 million barrels in the last week, compared with analysts' expectations for a decrease of 1.4 million barrels.

Crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub fell by 1.12 million barrels, said the Energy Information Administration, the department's statistical arm.

"You should be seeing draws across the board at this time of year," said Tariq Zahir, trader in crude oil spreads at Tyche Capital Advisors in New York. "With spot prices getting under US$40 yesterday, we are not surprised to see spot prices rebounding on the gasoline draw."

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WTI crude futures for September delivery rose 36 cents to US$39.87 a barrel, at 11:06 am, a 0.9 per cent gain. Brent crude futures for October delivery rose 31 cents to US$42.11 a barrel, a 0.7 per cent gain.

Refinery crude runs rose by 266,000 barrels per day, EIA data showed. Refinery utilization rates rose by 0.9 percentage point.

Gasoline stocks fell by 3.3 million barrels, compared with analysts' expectations in a Reuters poll for a 200,000-barrel drop.

"The 3.3 million barrel draw to gasoline stocks is likely a welcomed surprise for refiners," said Troy Vincent, analyst at New York-based oil cargo tracker and energy data provider ClipperData. "But an unexpected, greater-than-1-million barrel build to crude stocks despite refinery utilization ticking higher by 0.9 per cent should be cause for concern."

Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, rose by 1.2 million barrels, versus expectations for a 500,000-barrel drop, the EIA data showed.

US crude imports rose last week by 301,000 barrels per day.