US oil stocks fall unexpectedly last week, distillates drop-EIA

NEW YORK, Oct 3 (Reuters) - U.S. crude oil stocks declined unexpectedly last week and distillate inventories fell more steeply than forecast, government data showed on Wednesday.

Domestic stocks of crude dropped by 482,000 barrels in the week to Sept. 28, the Energy Information Administration reported, despite an increase in imports. Analysts polled by Reuters ahead of the data release had forecast a stock gain of 1.5 million barrels.

Imports of crude rose by 511,000 barrels per day to just over 8 million bpd during the week.

U.S. distillate stocks, which include diesel and heating oil, fell by 3.69 million barrels in the week, well above analysts' average forecast for a decline of 400,000 barrels.

The Midwest region showed the biggest decline in distillate inventories, off 1.87 million barrels, while Gulf Coast stocks fell by 1.67 million barrels. Stockpiles of the fuel on the East Coast, home to the world's largest heating oil market, fell by 410,000 barrels, with Central Atlantic stocks of distillates off 929,000 barrels.

U.S. gasoline inventories rose by 114,000 barrels, against expectations of a 600,000-barrels draw.

Demand in the world's largest consumer continued to drop, with gasoline use over the four weeks to Sept. 28 down 2.5 percent from year-earlier levels while distillate demand was off 4.5 percent.

Refinery utilization increased by 0.8 percentage point to 88.2 percent of capacity. Analysts had forecast a decline in plant utilization of 0.1 percentage point.

U.S. crude futures

held losses, trading down $2.55 at $89.34 a barrel after the release of the data.

(Reporting by Matthew Robinson; Editing by Dale Hudson)

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