US crude stocks unexpectedly rise for third week

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Inventories of US crude unexpectedly rose for the third consecutive week and have climbed in every week bar one this year, even as stocks of gasoline declined for the seventh straight week.

Stocks of US crude unexpectedly rose by 1.6m barrels to 535.5m barrels in the week ended March 31, according to the Energy Information Administration. That compared with expectations for a draw of 70,000 barrels and at 535.5m barrels inventories of US crude are at a record high.

Meanwhile, at Cushing, Oklahoma, a key delivery hub, oil stocks rose by 1.4m barrels last week, compared with estimates for a build of 12,500 barrels.

US crude oil imports averaged about 7.9m barrels per day last week, down by 374,000 barrels per day from the previous week.

The report also showed that inventories of gasoline, one of the products that crude is refined into, fell by 618,000 barrels, against expectations for a draw of 1.5m barrels.

Oil prices had advanced to their highest level in about a month on investor hopes of a decline in weekly crude stocks but pared their gains following Wednesday’s release. The moves comes a day after the American Petroleum Institute, an industry group, estimated that US crude stocks fell by 1.8m barrels.

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