U.S. crude stocks fell last week as refiners boosted activity to the highest rate since 2005, while stocks of distillates, which include diesel and jet fuel, rose by the most in a year, the Energy Information Administration said on Thursday. Crude inventories fell by 7.4 million barrels in the week to Dec. 29, compared with analysts’ expectations for a decrease of 5.1 million barrels. Refinery activity hit its highest utilization rate since 2005 as refiners kept processing heavy volumes of crude into products, and due in part to year-end tax concerns, analysts said. Crude runs rose by 210,000 barrels per day, EIA data showed. Refinery utilization rates rose by 1 percentage points to 96.7 percent. “Refineries have the incentive to run down stocks to avoid tax payments, which are based on the level of crude oil stocks at the year-end,” said Carsten Fritsch, oil analyst at Commerzbank […]