The nation's crude oil supplies increased last week, the government said Wednesday.
Crude supplies grew by 800,000 barrels, or 0.2 percent, to 345.7 million barrels, which is 0.9 percent below year-ago levels, the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration said in its weekly report.
Analysts expected an increase of 2 million barrels for the week ended March 2, according to Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos.
Gasoline supplies shrank by 400,000 barrels, or 0.2 percent, to 229.5 million barrels. That's 0.1 percent more than year-ago levels. Analysts expected gasoline supplies to decline by 1.75 million barrels.
Demand for gasoline over the four weeks ended March 2 was 7.8 percent lower than a year earlier, averaging 8.4 million barrels a day.
U.S. refineries ran at 83.9 percent of total capacity on average, up 0.3 percentage point from the prior week. Analysts expected capacity to fall to 83.2 percent.
Supplies of distillate fuel, which include diesel and heating oil, fell by 1.9 million barrels to 139.5 million barrels. Analysts expected distillate stocks to fall by 1.5 million barrels.
Benchmark crude rose 89 to $105.59 a barrel in New York.