The nation's crude oil supplies increased last week, the government said Wednesday.
Crude supplies grew by 1.8 million barrels, or 0.5 percent, to 347.5 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 a rise of 2.1 million barrels for the week ended March 9, according to Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos.
Gasoline supplies declined by 1.4 million barrels, or 0.6 percent, to 228.1 million barrels. That's 1.4 percent more than year-ago levels and matched analysts' expectations.
Demand for gasoline over the four weeks ended March 9 was 7.2 percent lower than a year earlier, averaging 8.4 million barrels a day.
U.S. refineries ran at 82.7 percent of total capacity on average, down 1.2 percentage points from the prior week. Analysts expected capacity to fall to 83.7 percent.
Supplies of distillate fuel, which include diesel and heating oil, fell by 4.7 million barrels to 134.8 million barrels. Analysts expected distillate stocks to drop by 1.5 million barrels.
Benchmark crude fell 25 cents to $106.46 a barrel in New York.