Drop in Crude Supplies Catches Analysts by Surprise

Drop in Crude Supplies Catches Analysts by Surprise

Crude-oil inventories fell unexpectedly last week after four straight weeks of gains.

For the week ended May 16, crude-oil inventories dropped by 5.4 million barrels to 320.4 million barrels, which is 6.5 percent below year-ago levels, the Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) said in its weekly report.

Analysts expected a gain of 900,000 barrels, according to a survey by Platts, the energy research arm of McGraw-Hill Cos.

Gasoline inventories fell by 800,000 barrels, while analysts expected stockpiles of the motor fuel to grow by 500,000 barrels.

U.S. refineries ran at 87.9 percent of total capacity on average, a gain of 1.3 percentage points. Analysts expected capacity to rise by only 0.6 percentage point.

Inventories of distillate fuel, which include diesel and heating oil, rose by 700,000 barrels. Analysts expected an increase of about 1.5 million barrels.

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