NEW YORK, Feb 20 (Reuters) - U.S. crude oil stocks rose almost 1 million barrels to 362 million barrels and fell 1.73 million barrels at the Cushing storage hub, indicating ample supply flowing to the Gulf Coast, Energy Information Administration data showed on Thursday.
Analysts polled by Reuters had expected a nationwide build of 2 million barrels, and U.S. benchmark oil futures rose about 20 cents in the immediate minutes after the data was issued. By 11:25 a.m. EST (1625 GMT), they were 0.25 percent lower at $103.05 a barrel.
Crude stocks amounted to 35.87 million barrels at Cushing and rose on the Gulf Coast by 2.5 million barrels to 176 million barrels, a sign that, thanks to new pipelines, an increasing amount of oil is being moved from storage to the huge refining hub in states such as Texas and Louisiana.
TransCanada Corp's 700,000 barrel per day (bpd) Gulf Coast pipeline, running from Cushing to Texas, is ramping up after it began service in late January. The pipeline flowed at initial rates of 300,000 bpd.
The data showed stocks of distillates fell just 340,000 barrels, far less than the 2 million barrel draw expected by analysts. Heating oil futures eased slightly after the data and by 11:25 a.m. EST (1625 GMT) they were 0.13 percent higher at $3.1409 a gallon.