SAN FRANCISCO -- Crude-oil futures topped $73 a barrel Wednesday, their highest level in two weeks, as investors reacted to U.S. data showing supplies of motor gasoline supplies fell for the fourth week in a row and crude inventories dropped more than the market expected.
Crude for October delivery was last up 2.1%, adding $1.48 to stand at $73.21 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. This put the contract at its highest level since Aug. 15.
Crude inventories fell by a bigger-than-expected 3.5 million barrels, down to 333.6 million barrels, for the week ended Aug. 24, the Energy Department reported in its latest update on U.S. petroleum stockpiles.
Supplies had risen 1.9 million barrels the prior week, but that came after a total decline of nearly 19 million barrels over a six-week span, according to government data. Separately, the American Petroleum Institute reported a drop of 4.9 million barrels in crude last week, pegging the total at 331.5 million barrels.
Motor gasoline supplies declined by 3.6 million barrels to 192.6 million, the Energy Department said. They're 8.2% below the year-ago level and have now declined by 12.1 million barrels over the course of four weeks, the data showed. As measured by the API, supplies of motor gasoline fell by 2.4 million barrels, sinking to 195.2 million barrels in the latest week.Full article (subscription required)