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US crude oil supplies drop by 11.1 million barrels

NEW YORK (AP) -- The nation's crude oil supplies shrank last week, the government said Wednesday.

Crude supplies dropped by 11.1 million barrels, or 3 percent, to 359.9 million barrels, which is 9.2 percent above year-ago levels, the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration said in its weekly report.

Analysts expected a drop of 1 million barrels for the week ended Dec. 28, according to Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos.

Gasoline supplies grew by 2.6 million barrels, or 1.2 percent, to 225.7 million barrels. That's 2.5 percent higher than year-ago levels. Analysts expected gasoline supplies to rise by 2.3 million barrels.

Demand for gasoline over the four weeks ended Dec. 28 was 2.3 percent lower than a year earlier, averaging 8.6 million barrels a day.

U.S. refineries ran at 90.4 percent of total capacity on average, up 0.1 percentage point from the prior week. Analysts expected capacity to rise to 90.75 percent.

Supplies of distillate fuel, which include diesel and heating oil, increased by 4.6 million barrels to 124 million barrels. Analysts expected distillate stocks to grow by 1.6 million barrels.

Benchmark crude futures fell 23 cents to $92.69 a barrel in New York.

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