NEW YORK, Dec 30 (Reuters) – U.S. crude oil inventories fell less than expected last week as refinery utilization rose, according to a weekly report from the Energy Information Administration on Thursday.    Domestic crude stocks dropped by 1.26 million barrels to 339.43 million barrels in the week to Dec. 24, the report showed, against expectations for a 2.6 million barrel draw.    Over the past four weeks, domestic crude stocks have fallen more than20 million barrels, the biggest four-week decline since June 2008 when inventories dropped by 23.6 million barrels.    U.S. oil companies traditionally draw down crude inventories at the end of the year for tax purposes, and it was the first consecutive four-week drop since last December.    The EIA data were delayed one day due to the Christmas holiday last week.    Stocks of gasoline fell by 2.32 million barrels to 214.86 millionbarrels. Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast a 1.4 million barrel rise.    Distillate inventories rose 243,000 barrels to 160.96 million barrels,compared with analysts’ expectations for a 600,000-barrel draw.    Refinery utilization increased 0.1 percentage point to 87.8 percent.Analysts had forecast a 0.2 percentage point decrease.

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