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US crude oil supplies rise by 2.7 million barrels

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

Crude supplies grew by 2.7 million barrels, or 0.7 percent, to 388.6 million barrels, which is 7.2 percent above year-ago levels, the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration said in its weekly report.

Analysts expected an increase of 2.5 million barrels for the week ended March 29, according to Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos.

Gasoline supplies shrank by 600,000 barrels, or 0.3 percent, to 220.7 million barrels. That's 0.6 percent less than year-ago levels. Analysts expected gasoline supplies to decrease by 1.25 million barrels.

Demand for gasoline over the four weeks ended March 29 was down 1.2 percent from a year ago, averaging about 8.5 million barrels a day.

U.S. refineries ran at 86.3 percent of total capacity on average, up 0.6 percentage point from the prior week. Analysts expected capacity to rise to 86.2 percent.

Supplies of distillate fuel, which include diesel and heating oil, fell by 2.3 million barrels to 113 million barrels. Analysts expected distillate stocks to drop by 1 million barrels.

Benchmark crude fell by $1.39 to $95.80 a barrel in New York.