The nation's crude oil supplies expanded by much more than analysts expected last week, according to government data released Wednesday.
Crude supplies grew by 9 million barrels, or 2.5 percent, to 362.4 million barrels, which is 1.3 percent above year-ago levels, the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration said in its weekly report.
Analysts expected an increase of 1.9 million barrels for the week ended March 30, according to Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos.
Gasoline supplies fell by 1.5 million barrels, or 0.7 percent, to 221.9 million barrels. That's 2.4 percent above than year-ago levels. Analysts expected gasoline supplies to shrink by 1.6 million barrels.
Demand for gasoline over the four weeks ended March was 3.8 percent lower than a year earlier, averaging 8.6 million barrels a day.
U.S. refineries ran at 85.7 percent of total capacity on average, up 1.7 percentage points from the prior week. Analysts expected capacity to rise to 84.4 percent.
Supplies of distillate fuel, which include diesel and heating oil, were unchanged at 135.9 million barrels. Analysts expected distillate stocks to decline by 600,000 barrels.
Benchmark crude futures fell $2.27 to $101.74 a barrel in New York.