US crude supplies shrank by 6.9 million barrels

Energy Department says US crude oil inventories fell, gasoline supplies grew last week

Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) -- The nation's crude oil supplies dropped last week, the government said Wednesday.

Crude supplies fell by 6.9 million barrels, or 1.8 percent, to 367 million barrels, which is 2.7 percent below year-ago levels, the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration said in its weekly report.

Analysts expected a drop of 2.5 million barrels for the week ended July 12, according to Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos.

Crude supplies declined last week at Cushing, Okla., a crucial hub for benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude, and in the Gulf Coast region.

Gasoline supplies rose by 3.1 million barrels, or 1.4 percent, to 224.1 million barrels. That's 8.8 percent above year-ago levels. Analysts expected gasoline supplies to be unchanged from the week before.

Demand for gasoline over the four weeks ended July 12 was 2.3 percent higher than a year earlier, averaging 9.1 million barrels a day.

U.S. refineries ran at 92.8 percent of total capacity on average, up 0.4 percentage point from the prior week. Analysts expected capacity to fall to 92.2 percent.

Supplies of distillate fuel, which include diesel and heating oil, grew by 3.9 million barrels to 127.7 million barrels. Analysts expected distillate stocks to increase by 1.8 million barrels.

Benchmark crude rose 20 cents to $106.20 a barrel in New York.

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