U.S. crude stocks fell more than expected last week as refineries pushed output to its highest rate for this time of year in nearly two decades, the Energy Information Administration said on Thursday. Crude inventories fell by 4.6 million barrels in the week to Dec. 22, compared with analysts’ expectations for a decrease of 4 million barrels. Refinery crude runs rose by 335,000 barrels per day, EIA data showed. Refinery utilization rates rose by 1.6 percentage points to 95.7 percent, the highest in December since 1998. A sharp increase in East Coast activity helped boost overall refining use, where refiners are operating at 98.4 percent of capacity, highest on record for this time of year. Even though production has remained strong in the United States, refiner appetite for crude has helped reduce overall stocks, as they have found steady demand through exports. Production edged lower in the […]