U.S. crude stocks fell unexpectedly last week, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday, while gasoline and distillate inventories also declined in a report that analysts said should be supportive for prices.
Crude inventories fell by 2.2 million barrels in the week to April 7, compared with analysts' expectations for an increase of 87,000 barrels.
"A near 2.2 million barrel draw to commercial crude stocks and continued draws to product stocks should provide support to current prices," said Troy Vincent, oil analyst at ClipperData.
Oil prices bounced around following the release. Traders attributed the up-and-down action to the drawdown in inventories against another increase in U.S. production, higher inventories at the Cushing, Oklahoma, oil hub, and traders exiting profitable trades after the last two weeks of price gains.
U.S. crude was down 9 cents to $53.31 a barrel as of 11:21 a.m. ET (1521 GMT), while Brent crude dropped 17 cents to $56.06 a barrel.
Crude stocks at Cushing rose by 276,000 barrels, EIA said.
Overall domestic production rose to 9.24 million bpd, EIA said, from 9.2 million a week prior.
Gasoline stocks fell by 3.0 million barrels, compared with analysts' expectations in a Reuters poll
for a 1.7 million-barrel drop. Stocks of gasoline, which had been running above seasonal averages, have dropped for eight consecutive weeks. Last year, an abundance of gasoline supplies hammered refining margins.
Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, fell by 2.2 million barrels, versus expectations for a 885,000-barrel drop, the EIA data showed.
Refinery crude runs rose by 268,000 barrels per day, EIA data showed. Refinery utilization rates rose by 0.2 percentage points.
U.S. crude imports fell last week by 86,000 barrels per day.
(By David Gaffen; Additional reporting By Jessica Resnick-Ault, Devika Krishna Kumar and Ethan Lou; Editing by Frances Kerry)