US crude stocks fell 12.032 million barrels last week, while US distillate stocks jumped 6.71 million barrels, according to American Petroleum Institute data Thursday.
The data painted a bullish picture for NYMEX crude futures, and a bearish picture for refined products. Analysts polled by Platts were looking for a 1 million-barrel draw in crude stocks, a 1.6 million-barrel build in distillate stocks and a 2.3 million-barrel build in US gasoline stocks.
The API reported a 3.321 million-barrel build in US gasoline stocks.
Yet, little reaction was seen in electronic trading Thursday afternoon immediately following the release of the API data. The market tends to wait for confirmation from the US Energy Information Administration's weekly data, which is due to be released Friday morning. Both sets of data were delayed this week because of the New Year's holiday.
The US Gulf Coast led the crude stock draw. Stocks fell 10.619 million barrels last week to 163.833 million barrels, even though imports fell just 104,000 b/d and to 4.121 million b/d, while Gulf Coast refiners reduced total runs by 238,000 b/d to 8.749 million b/d.
It's not unusual for US crude stocks to tumble toward the end of the year, as refiners reduce inventories for tax purposes. For instance, the week ending December 31, 2010, the API reported a 7.511 million-barrel crude stock draw, while the following year a combined 8.841 million-barrel decrease was reported over a three week period ending January 13, 2012.
The US Gulf Coast also led the distillate stock increase, with inventories rising 3.16 million barrels to 38.33 million barrels. Midwest stocks were up 2.075 million barrels at 27.598 million barrels, while US Atlantic Coast stocks climbed 1.817 million barrels to 41.091 million barrels.
The USAC remains tight on distillates, however, which may help bolster the New York-delivered NYMEX heating oil contract. Stocks were at 55.791 million barrels one year ago, the API data showed.
Still, that year-on-year deficit on the USAC has been seen primarily in high sulfur distillates, which are being phased out in favor of low sulfur diesel.
The USAC led the rise in US gasoline stocks, with inventories climbing 1.992 million barrels to 49.882 million barrels last week. This may put some downward pressure on the New York-delivered NYMEX RBOB contract, especially in confirmed by the EIA, although stocks in the region remain tight. Inventories were at 56.398 million barrels one year ago, the API data showed.