US crude oil supplies shrank by 500,000 barrels

NEW YORK -- The nation's crude oil supplies declined last week, the government said Wednesday.

Crude supplies dropped by 500,000 barrels, or 0.1 percent, to 364.7 million barrels, which is 8.4 percent above year-ago levels, the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration said in its weekly report.

Analysts expected an increase of 1.5 million barrels for the week ended Sept. 28, according to Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos.

Gasoline supplies grew by 100,000 barrels, or 0.1 percent, to 195.9 million barrels. That's 8.3 percent lower than year-ago levels. Analysts expected gasoline supplies to be unchanged.

Demand for gasoline over the four weeks ended Sept. 28 was 2.5 percent lower than a year earlier, averaging 8.7 million barrels a day.

U.S. refineries ran at 88.2 percent of total capacity on average, up 0.8 percentage point from the prior week. Analysts expected capacity to be unchanged.

Supplies of distillate fuel, which include diesel and heating oil, shrank by 3.7 million barrels to 124.1 million barrels. Analysts expected distillate stocks to fall by 400,000 barrels.

Benchmark crude futures fell $2.96, or 3.2 percent to $88.93 a barrel in New York.