U.S. crude stocks fall as output reaches 1988 high -EIA
NEW YORK, Dec 27 (Reuters) - U.S. crude oil stocks fell by 4.7 million barrels last week as the Gulf Coast continued to shed inventories, data from the Energy Information Administration showed on Friday, prompting U.S. oil prices to gain over $1 a barrel.
The data showed crude stocks on the Gulf Coast fell 5.14 million barrels in the week ending Dec. 10 to 176 million barrels. The 4.7 million barrel fall to 368 million barrels was far higher than the 2.3 million barrel drawdown expected by analyst polled by Reuters.
Stocks traditionally fall on the Gulf Coast in December as inventory holders seek to avoid paying the tax that is levied on them at the end of the year.
"It looks to me as though some of that Gulf Coast storage was eager to unload barrels as tax season approaches. That will probably be the common theme for next week as well," said Bob Yawger, director of commodities futures at Mizuho Securities in New York.
However, record crude oil production thanks to a shale revolution means refineries across the country have been running at high capacities to gain from cheap feedstock prices, strong margins and a healthy refined product export market.
The EIA data showed refiners on the Gulf Coast ran at 95.6 percent of their capacity last week -- the highest level in a year, as oil production across the country reached 8.11 million barrels a day, the highest since September 1988.
U.S. oil benchmark rose immediately after the data was issued and by 11:30 a.m. (1630 GMT) was trading at $100.61 a barrel, 1.06 percent higher. The futures had popped above the $100 mark before the data.
Distillates stocks fell 1.85 million barrels, compared with the 400,000 barrel drawdown expected by analysts polled by Reuters. Ultra-low sulfur diesel futures extended gains also and were trading at $3.113 a gallon, 1.23 percent higher.
(Reporting by Sabina Zawadzki, Selam Gebrekidan, Anna Louie Sussman and Jeanine Prezioso in New York; Editing by Kenneth Barry)