The nation's crude oil supplies rose last week, the government said Wednesday.
Crude supplies grew by 4.2 million barrels, or 1.2 percent, to 338.9 million barrels, which is 1.2 percent below year-ago levels, the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration said in its weekly report.
Analysts expected an increase of 3 million barrels for the week ended Jan. 27, according to Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos.
Gasoline supplies grew by 3 million barrels, or 1.3 percent, to 230.1 million barrels. That's 2.6 percent lower than year-ago levels. Analysts expected gasoline supplies to rise by 1 million barrels.
Demand for gasoline over the four weeks ended Jan. 27 was down 7.3 percent from a year earlier, averaging 8.1 million barrels a day.
U.S. refineries ran at 81.8 percent of total capacity on average, down 0.4 percentage point from the prior week. Analysts expected capacity to fall to 82 percent.
Supplies of distillate fuel, which include diesel and heating oil, shrank by 100,000 barrels to 145.4 million barrels. Analysts expected distillate stocks to decrease by 1.2 million barrels.
Benchmark crude fell 22 cents to $98.26 a barrel in New York.