Crude and gas supplies fall less than expected

AP News
Posted: Dec 30, 2009 10:40 AM

Crude and gasoline supplies fell last week, the government said Wednesday.

Crude inventories dropped by 1.5 million barrels, or a half percent, to 326 million barrels, which is 0.3 percent above year-ago levels, the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration said in its weekly report.

Analysts had expected a drop of 2.2 million barrels for the week ended Dec. 25, according to a survey by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos.

Gasoline inventories fell by 300,000 barrels, or a tenth of a percent, to 216 million barrels. Analysts had expecteds gasoline stocks to increase.

Demand for gasoline over the four weeks ended Dec. 25 was 1.1 percent higher than a year earlier, averaging nearly 9 million barrels a day.

At the same time, U.S. refineries ran at 80.3 percent of total capacity on average, a rise of 0.3 percentage points from the prior week and inline with analyst exceptions.

Inventories of distillate fuel, which include diesel and heating oil, dropped by 2 million barrels to 159.3 million barrels for the week. Analysts expected distillate stocks to fall by 2.1 million barrels.

Crude prices fell 5 cents to $78.82 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.