U.S. crude stocks rose more than expected last week, while gasoline and distillate inventories fell, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said Jan. 31.

"Strong demand in the major refined products categories is supporting the entire petroleum complex after the data release," said David Thompson, executive vice-president at Powerhouse, an energy-specialized commodities broker in Washington. Demand for gasoline and diesel remains stronger than year-ago levels, he said.

Crude inventories rose by 6.8 million barrels (bbl) in the last week, compared with analysts' expectations for an increase of 126,000 barrels. The increase followed 10 weeks of declines.

Crude stocks at the Cushing, Okla., delivery hub fell by 2.22 million bbl, the EIA said.

Refinery crude runs fell by 470,000 bbl/d, EIA data showed. Refinery utilization rates fell by 2.8 percentage points.

"The report was somewhat bearish, with the large crude oil inventory rise offset by another sizeable decline of inventories at the Cushing, Oklahoma delivery hub and a rebound in gasoline demand on the week," said John Kilduff, partner at energy hedge fund Again Capital. "Refining activity is finally slowing, allowing for oil inventory build, which should persist over the next several weeks."

U.S. crude prices initially extended losses after the data was released, but then pared losses. West Texas Intermediate crude futures for March delivery fell 38 cents to $64.12/bbl by 10:18 a.m. CST [16:18 GMT]. Brent crude futures for March delivery fell 30 cents to $68.72/bbl.

Gasoline stocks unexpectedly fell by 2 million bbl, compared with analysts' expectations in a Reuters poll for a 1.8 million bbl gain.

Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, fell by 1.9 million bbl, vs. expectations for a 1.5 million bbl drop, the EIA data showed.

Net U.S. crude imports rose last week by 35,000 bbl/d.