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Oil Inventories Steady Last Week
Wednesday March 26, 10:44 am ET

Government Report Shows Oil Inventories Flat After Two Straight Gains, Dip in Gas Supply

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Crude-oil inventories remained steady last week after rising in the prior two periods, according to government data published Wednesday.

For the week ended March 21, crude-oil inventories remained at 311.8 million barrels, which were 4.6 percent below year-ago levels, the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration said in its weekly report. Analysts had expected a gain of 1.7 million barrels, according to a survey by Dow Jones Newswires.

Gasoline inventories fell by 3.3 million barrels, or 1.4 percent, to 229.2 million barrels, which were still 11.2 percent above year-ago levels. Analysts expected stockpiles of the motor fuel to fall by only 800,000 barrels last week.

Demand for gasoline over the four weeks ended March 21 was 0.9 percent lower than a year earlier, averaging nearly 9.1 million barrels a day.

At the same time, U.S. refineries ran at 82.2 percent of total capacity on average, a drop of 1.6 percentage points. Analysts expected a gain of 0.5 percentage point.

Inventories of distillate fuel, which includes diesel and heating oil, fell by 2.2 million barrels to 111.3 million barrels for the week ended March 21. Analysts expected distillate stocks to drop by only 1.6 million barrels.

At the pump, gas prices rose nearly a penny overnight to remain at a national average of $3.26 a gallon Wednesday, and are still well above the year-ago average of $2.59 a gallon, according to AAA and the Oil Price Information Service. Gas prices set a record high of roughly $3.29 a gallon on March 16.

In morning trading, light, sweet crude for May delivery rose $3 to $104.20 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Source: Associated Press

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