(Reuters) – U.S. crude oil and gasoline inventories grew unexpectedly last week as crude production and refining output rose, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.
Crude inventories rose for a second week in a row, building by 1.9 million barrels in the week to Nov. 10, contrary to analyst expectations in a Reuters poll for a decrease of 2.2 million barrels.
The build, however, was lower than the 6.5 million-barrel rise reported by trade group the American Petroleum Institute on Tuesday.
“The report was bearish, but prices had already reacted, in negative fashion, to last night’s API report, which was a tough act to follow,” said John Kilduff, partner at energy hedge fund Again Capital LLC in New York.
Crude prices were lower on the day, though slightly stronger than before the release of the data. By 11:07 a.m. (1607 GMT), U.S. crude futures were down 46 cents to $55.25 a barrel, while Brent was 63 cents lower at $61.58 a barrel.
Weekly crude production inched up to another record high since the EIA started keeping weekly data in 1983, hitting 9.65 million barrels per day (bpd). That is still short of monthly records set in the 1970s, when crude output exceeded 10 million bpd.
The weekly production figure tends to fluctuate, whereas the EIA’s monthly data, which traders consider more reliable, still shows U.S. production levels around 9.2 million bpd.
Crude imports rose last week by 261,000 bpd to 7.9 million bpd, as exports rose 260,000 bpd to 1.1 million bpd.
Crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub for U.S. crude futures fell 1.5 million barrels, EIA said.
After three weeks of drawdowns, gasoline stocks rose 894,000 barrels, compared with forecasts for a 919,000-barrel drop.
Refining rates rose to their highest since before hurricanes hit the U.S. Gulf refining hub in late August.
Crude runs rose 334,000 bpd to 16.6 million bpd as refinery utilization rates increased by 1.4 percentage points to 91 percent of capacity.
East Coast refining utilization hit 99.8 percent of capacity, its highest on record dating to 2010.
Despite higher overall refining rates, distillate stockpiles, fell for the fourth week in a row and were in the lower half of the average range for this time of year, the EIA said.
The stocks, which include diesel and heating oil that usually starts building ahead of winter heating demand, dropped 799,000 barrels, versus expectations for a 1.3 million-barrel drop, the data showed.
U.S. Gulf Coast distillate stocks fell to 38.8 million barrels, a one-year low.