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US crude oil supplies down by 300,000 barrels

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

Crude supplies declined by 300,000 barrels, or 0.1 percent, to 394.6 million barrels, which is 3.1 percent above year-ago levels, the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration said in its weekly report.

Analysts expected an decrease of 1.2 million barrels for the week ended May 17, according to Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos.

Gasoline supplies grew by 3 million barrels, or 1.4 percent, to 220.7 million barrels. That's 9.8 percent above year-ago levels. Analysts expected gasoline supplies to drop by 200,000 barrels.

Demand for gasoline over the four weeks ended May 17 was 3.3 percent lower than a year earlier, averaging 8.5 million barrels a day.

U.S. refineries ran at 87.3 percent of total capacity on average, down 0.7 percentage point from the prior week. Analysts expected capacity to rise to 88.7 percent.

Supplies of distillate fuel, which include diesel and heating oil, fell by 1.1 million barrels to 118.8 million barrels. Analysts expected distillate stocks to grow by 1.1 million barrels.

Benchmark crude futures dropped by $1.65, or 1.7 percent, to $94.53 a barrel in New York.