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Oil futures fall sharply after data shows US gasoline build

New York — A surprise build in US gasoline stocks last week triggered a sharp sell-off across the oil complex Wednesday, even though weekly US inventory data also showed draws in both crude and distillate inventories.

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Gasoline stocks rose 1.542 million barrels to 237.672 million barrels in the week ending April 14, Energy Information Administration data showed.

Analysts surveyed Monday by S&P Global Platts were looking for a draw of 2 million barrels.

NYMEX May RBOB settled 5.20 cents lower at $1.6590/gal.

On the Atlantic Coast, home to the New York Harbor-delivered NYMEX RBOB futures contract, gasoline stocks fell 1.276 million barrels, but still sit at a 5 million barrel surplus to the five-year average for this time of year.

Distillate stocks fell 1.955 million barrels last week, EIA data showed. Analysts were looking for a draw of 1.4 million barrels.

Inventories have fallen 10 straight weeks by a total of 22.5 million barrels to 148.266 million barrels, a surplus of 19 million barrels to the five-year average for this time of year.

NYMEX May ULSD fell 4.06 cents Wednesday to settle at $1.5813/gal.

Crude stocks declined 1.034 million barrels to 532.343 million barrels in the week ended April 14, EIA data showed Wednesday. Analysts were looking for a draw of just 50,000 barrels.

Related post on The Barrel blog: Why the crude rally has fizzled: Market analysis series

Refinery utilization jumped 1.9 percentage points last week to 92.9% of capacity, helping draw stocks lower.

"Crude oil prices had already been sliding before the stats were released, and with the report offering a mix of bullish and bearish factors, prices continued their downward trajectory," said Jenna Delaney, senior oil analyst at Platts Analytics.

One factor helping boost stocks has been US crude production, which has climbed by 482,000 b/d this year. Output rose 17,000 b/d last week to 9.252 million b/d, the highest level since August 2015, EIA estimates showed.

"Overall, the trend being followed is for production to continue to go up, and that's pressuring WTI and products for that matter, along with Brent," said Tony Headrick, an analyst at CHS Hedging.

NYMEX May crude settled $1.97 lower Wednesday at $50.44/b. ICE June Brent settled down $1.96 at $52.93/b.

--Geoffrey Craig,

--Edited by Derek Sands,