US crude oil supplies grew by 3.8 million barrels

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

Crude inventories increased by 3.8 million barrels, or 0.4 percent, to 381.4 million barrels, which is 10.3 percent above year-ago levels, the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration said in its weekly report.

Analysts expected an increase of 1.1 million barrels for the week ended March 1, according to Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos.

Gasoline supplies declined by 600,000 barrels, or 0.3 percent, to 227.9 million barrels. That's 0.7 percent below year-ago levels. Analysts expected gasoline supplies to shrink by 1.3 million barrels.

Demand for gasoline over the four weeks ended March 1 was 1.1 percent higher than a year earlier, averaging 8.5 million barrels a day.

U.S. refineries ran at 82.2 percent of total capacity on average, down 2.9 percentage points from the prior week. Analysts expected capacity to remain flat at 85.1 percent.

Supplies of distillate fuel, which include diesel and heating oil, fell by 3.8 million barrels to 120.4 million barrels. Analysts expected distillate stocks to decline by 1.3 million barrels.

Oil production held steady at around 7.1 million barrels a day. That's up about 22 percent from a year ago.

Benchmark crude futures dropped 74 cents to $90.08 a barrel in New York.