The nation's crude oil supplies fell last week, while gasoline supplies grew, the government said Wednesday.
Crude supplies dropped by 7.3 million barrels, or 2.1 percent, to 339 million barrels, which is 5.4 percent below year-ago levels, the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration said in its weekly report.
Analysts expected a decline of 1 million barrels for the week ended Sept. 16, according to Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos.
Gasoline supplies rose by 3.3 million barrels, or 1.6 percent, to 214.1 million barrels. That was above analysts' expectations and 5.3 percent below year-ago levels.
Demand for gasoline over the four weeks ended Sept. 16 was 1.7 percent lower than a year earlier, averaging nearly 9 million barrels a day.
U.S. refineries ran at 88.3 percent of total capacity on average, a rise of 1.3 percentage points from the prior week. Analysts expected capacity to slip to 86.5 percent.
Supplies of distillate fuel, which include diesel and heating oil, fell by 900,000 barrels to 157.6 million barrels. Analysts expected distillate stocks to grow by 1.2 million barrels.
In morning trading benchmark crude prices rose 70 cents to $87.62 per barrel in the New York.