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U.S. crude stockpiles plunge 10 mln bbls to lowest since March -EIA

U.S. crude oil stockpiles fell by nearly 10 million barrels last week to their lowest since March, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.

The unexpected 9.9 million-barrel fall, the biggest draw since July, reduced crude inventories to 476.7 million barrels, according to EIA figures. Analysts expectations in a Reuters poll were for a 430,000-barrel rise.

The decline was the result of a sharp falloff in imports and a 2.3 million-barrel drawdown in stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub for crude futures.

Net U.S. crude imports fell by 2.1 million barrels per day, the EIA said.

Prices rose on the news, with U.S. crude up 35 cents, or 0.7%, to $52.95 a barrel, while Brent gained 0.5% to $56.20 a barrel by 10:44 a.m. EST (1544 GMT).

“Today’s inventory numbers are a big draw in crude and that should support us. Gasoline demand dipped a little bit so that was disappointing,” said Phil Flynn, senior analyst at Price Futures Group.

Refinery crude runs fell by 39,000 bpd, while refinery utilization rates fell by 0.8 percentage points last week, the EIA said.

U.S. gasoline stocks rose by 2.5 million barrels to 247.7 million barrels, the EIA said, compared with expectations for a 1.8 million-barrel rise.

Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, fell by 815,000 barrels in the week, versus expectations for a 361,000-barrel drop.
Source: Reuters (Reporting By David Gaffen and Laila Kearney Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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