Crude inventories fell last week, while gasoline supplies grew, the government said Wednesday.
Crude inventories fell by 3.8 million barrels, or 1.1 percent, to 336.1 million barrels, which is 4.4 percent above year-ago levels, the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration said in its weekly report.
Analysts had expected a build of 600,000 barrels for the week ended Dec. 4, according to a survey by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos.
Gasoline inventories increased by 2.2 million barrels, or 1 percent, to 216.3 million barrels. That exceeded analyst expectations and was 5.7 percent above year-ago levels.
Demand for gasoline over the four weeks ended Dec. 4 was 1.2 percent higher than a year earlier, averaging nearly 9 million barrels a day.
At the same time, U.S. refineries ran at 81.1 percent of total capacity on average, a rise of 1.4 percentage points from the prior week. Analysts expected capacity to build to 80 percent.
Inventories of distillate fuel, which include diesel and heating oil, rose by 1.6 million barrels to 167.3 million barrels for the week ended Dec. 4. Analysts expected distillate stocks to fall by 400,000 barrels.
Crude prices rose 14 cents to $72.76 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.