By Dan Molinski


U.S. crude-oil inventories jumped by more than two times what analysts were forecasting for the week ended March 17, while gasoline stockpiles fell, according to data released Wednesday by the Energy Information Administration.

Crude-oil stockpiles climbed by 5 million barrels to 533.1 million barrels, and are now at the upper limit of the average range for this time of year, the EIA said. Analysts surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had predicted crude supplies would rise by 2.1 million barrels on the week.

Oil stored at Cushing, Okla., the delivery point for U.S. stocks, increased by 1.4 million barrels to 68 million barrels, the EIA said in its weekly report.

Gasoline stockpiles decreased by 2.8 million barrels to 243.5 million barrels. Analysts were expecting gasoline inventories to fall by 2 million barrels from the previous week.

Distillate stocks, which include heating oil and diesel fuel, decreased by 1.9 million barrels to 155.4 million barrels, and are in the upper half of the average range, the EIA said. Earlier in the week, analysts had forecast supplies would decrease by 1.7 million barrels from a week earlier.

Refining capacity utilization rose by 2.3 percentage points from the previous week to 87.4%. Analysts were expecting utilization levels to rise by just 0.2 percentage point from the previous week.


U.S. oil inventories for week ended March 17:

Crude Gasoline Distillates Refinery Use

EIA data: +5.0 -2.8 -1.9 +2.3

Forecast: +2.1 -2.0 -1.7 +0.2


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