Crude prices gain on inventories report

New hurricane sends crude prices higherCrude oil prices were higher Wednesday after the US Energy Information Administration issued its weekly inventories report, which showed that US gasoline inventories were down much more than expected last week.

The EIA said that gasoline stockpiles in the United States were down 6.4 million barrels in the week ending 8 August, almost three times more than the 2.2 million barrels the inventories were expected to fall.

The declines were not simply a function of more demand, however, as the EIA reported demand for gasoline dropped 2 percent over the past four weeks in the US and refineries operated at only 85.9 percent of capacity.

In addition to declines in gasoline stockpiles, US crude oil inventories were down by 400,000 barrels during the week against an expected increase of half a million barrels, while distillates in storage were down 1.7 million barrels, also against an expected gain.

After going as low as $112.82 per barrel and as high as $117.43 per barrel, West Texas Intermediate crude for September delivery added $2.99 to $116 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange while at last report Brent crude was up $3.46 to $114.60 per barrel on the ICE Futures Europe exchange in London.

Nymex September gasoline futures were up 6 cents to $2.90 per gallon and September heating oil added 5 cents to $3.13 per gallon while October natural gas gained 15 cents to $8.56 per million British thermal units.

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