Crude inventories rose last week, with stocks at the trading hub in Cushing, Oklahoma increasing to an nine-month high, while oil products fell, data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration showed on Wednesday.
Crude oil inventories rose 1.75 million barrels to 347.45 million barrels in the week to March 9, in line with a Reuters poll of analysts that forecast a 1.7-million-barrel build.
Stockpiles at the Cushing, Oklahoma delivery point for the New York Mercantile Exchange crude contract, rose 2.52 million barrels to 38.7 million barrels. Cushing has had its largest eight-week build since early 2009, and stood at the highest since June 2011.
Cushing stocks have been rising as Enterprise Products
Weekly crude imports edged up slightly by 4,000 barrels per day (bpd) to average 8.68 million bpd, EIA said.
Distillate stockpiles fell by 4.68 million barrels, more than analyst predictions for a 1.3-million-barrel drawdown, to 134.81 million barrels. Average distillate demand over the last four weeks fell 7.1 percent compared with year-earlier levels.
Gasoline inventories fell 1.41 million barrels, slightly more than analyst forecasts for a 1 million-barrel decline. Demand dropped 7.2 percent against the same period in 2011.
Today's report was a mixed bag. What stands out is the decline in distillate stocks, said Chris Dillman of Tradition Energy in Connecticut.
A big gain in Cushing pushed inventories there back near the five-year max.
Cushing stocks reached their record high in April of 2011, when they shot as high as 41.9 million barrels, EIA data shows.
Refinery utilization fell 1.2 percentage points to 82.7 percent of capacity last week, compared with calls for an increase of 0.1 percentage point.
U.S. crude oil prices seesawed after the data, initially rising, then falling by 85 cents a barrel to $105.86 by 11:11 a.m. EDT (15:11 GMT).
The EIA data comes after industry group American Petroleum Institute reported its own weekly inventory numbers on Tuesday, which said crude stocks rose 2.8 million barrels last week, gasoline stocks fell by 2.1 million barrels and distillates dropped 3.5 million barrels.
(Reporting by Joshua Schneyer, Janet McGurty and Edward McAllister in New York; Editing by David Gregorio)