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US crude oil supplies drop by 6.3 million barrels

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

Crude supplies shrank by 6.3 million barrels, or 1.6 percent, to 391.3 million barrels, which is 1.7 percent above year-ago levels, the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration said in its weekly report.

Analysts expected a decrease of 1 million barrels for the week ended May 31, according to Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos.

Gasoline supplies declined by 400,000 barrels, or 0.2 percent, to 218.8 million barrels. That's 7.5 percent above year-ago levels. Analysts expected gasoline supplies to rise by 1 million barrels.

Demand for gasoline over the four weeks ended May 31 was 0.8 percent lower than a year earlier, averaging 8.7 million barrels a day.

U.S. refineries ran at 88.4 percent of total capacity on average, up 2 percentage points from the prior week. Analysts expected capacity to rise to 86.9 percent.

Supplies of distillate fuel, which include diesel and heating oil, grew by 2.6 million barrels to 123.3 million barrels. Analysts expected distillate stocks to rise by 1.4 million barrels.

Benchmark crude futures rose by 57 cents to $93.88 a barrel in New York.