AP News

Energy Department says oil, gasoline supplies fall

NEW YORK (AP) — The nation's inventories of oil and gasoline fell last week, the government reported Wednesday.

Commercial crude supplies declined 2.4 million barrels, or 0.7 percentage point, to 365.2 million barrels for the week that ended Sept. 21, the Energy Department reported. The total was still 7.1 percent above the comparable week in 2011.

Analysts expected oil inventories to increase 1.5 million barrels, according to Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos.

Oil imports averaged 7.6 million barrels per day last week, which was down 2.3 million barrels from the previous week, the agency stated.

Gasoline stockpiles dropped 500,000 barrels to 195.8 million barrels. That's 8.9 percent less than year-ago levels. Analysts had expected the supplies to remain unchanged.

Demand for gasoline over the four weeks ended Sept. 21 was 1 percent less than the same period of 2011, averaging 8.8 million barrels a day.

U.S. refineries ran at 87.4 percent of total capacity on average, down 1.5 percentage points from the prior week. Analysts expected capacity to remain unchanged.

Supplies of distillate fuel, which include diesel and heating oil, fell 500,000 barrels to 127.7 million barrels. The total was 19 percent less than year-ago levels. Analysts expected inventories to increase by 1 million barrels.

Benchmark crude futures fell $2.04, or 2.2 percent, to $89.35 a barrel in New York.

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