By Elizabeth Dilts
NEW YORK, Feb 20 (Reuters) - U.S. crude oil stockpiles rose more than expected last week as imports increased and refinery output fell, data from the Energy Information Administration showed on Wednesday.
Crude oil inventories rose by 1.4 million barrels in the week ending Feb. 28, compared to analysts’ expectations for a build of 1.3 million barrels.
Imports rose by 75,000 bpd and refinery utilization slipped 0.6 percent.
Stocks of distillates rose by 1.4 million barrels, confounding analysts’ expectations for a 1.2 million barrel draw. Gasoline stocks fell 1.6 million barrels, slightly more than analysts’ expectations of a 1.2 million barrel draw.
“The report tilts to the bearish side because of the build in crude, even with a small recovery in imports and the build in distillates,” said Phil Flynn, an analyst with Price Futures Group in Chicago.
Crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, hub fell by 2.7 million barrels for the fifth straight week of draws as new pipelines continued to move oil to the Gulf Coast. Crude stocks there rose by 4.3 million barrels.
“The build in (the Gulf Coast) is along seasonal norms,” said Stephen Schork, editor of energy newsletter The Schork Report in Villanova, Pennsylvania. “We build it up in order to get ready for gasoline blending season.”
U.S. benchmark oil futures extended losses and were down more than $1 in the minutes after the data was released.
Heating oil futures extended losses after the data and at 11:29 a.m. EST (1629 GMT) were trading nearly 4 cents lower at $3.0011 a gallon.