Crude inventories rose last week, while gasoline supplies decreased, the government said Wednesday.
Crude inventories rose by 2.3 million barrels, or 0.7 percent, to 329 million barrels, which is 6.1 percent below year-ago levels, according to the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration's weekly report.
Analysts expected a drop of 1 million barrels for the week ended Jan. 29, according to a survey by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos.
Gasoline inventories fell by 1.3 million barrels, or 0.6 percent, to 228.1 million barrels. That missed analysts' expectations and was 5 percent above year-ago levels.
Demand for gasoline over the four weeks ended Jan. 29 was 0.5 percent lower than a year earlier, averaging nearly 8.6 million barrels a day.
At the same time, U.S. refineries ran at 77.7 percent of total capacity on average, a drop of 0.8 percentage point from the prior week. Analysts expected capacity to build to 78.75 percent.
Inventories of distillate fuel, which include diesel and heating oil, fell by 1 million barrels to 156.5 million barrels for the week ended Jan. 29. Analysts expected distillate stocks to drop by 1.2 million barrels.
Crude prices fell 10 cents to $77.13 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
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