U.S. Oil Inventories Post Larger-Than-Expected Rise

U.S. crude stockpiles continued to reach new heights in the week ended Feb. 6, according to data released Wednesday by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Crude-oil stockpiles gained 4.9 million barrels to 417.9 million barrels, compared with an average survey estimate for stocks to rise by 4 million barrels on the week. Stockpiles are at the highest ever in EIA weekly data going back to August 1982.

Oil stored at Cushing, Okla., the delivery point for U.S. benchmark oil futures, rose 1.2 million barrels to the highest level in a year and a half, 42.6 million barrels.

Gasoline stockpiles rose by 2.0 million barrels to 242.6 million barrels, the EIA said in its weekly report, the highest since March 16, 1990. Analysts surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had predicted stockpiles would climb by 200,000 barrels.

Distillate stocks, which include heating oil and diesel fuel, fell by 3.3 million barrels to 131.2 million barrels, the EIA said. Analysts had expected a 1.3 million-barrel weekly decrease.

Refining capacity utilization rose 0.1 percentage point to 90%. Analysts had predicted the operating rate would fall by 0.1 percentage point in the week.

Figures are in millions of barrels, rounded, except for refining use, which is reported in percentage points. Forecasts are the average of expectations in a Wall Street Journal survey of analysts earlier in the week.