Oil Rallies as Gasoline Demand Rises, Inventories Fall


"Crude-oil futures on Wednesday surged more than 6% to above $42 a barrel. . ."

Crude-oil futures on Wednesday surged more than 6% to above $42 a barrel as data showed rising gasoline consumption in the U.S. has driven inventories to a lower level than analysts had expected.

Crude for April delivery ended up $2.54, or 6.4%, at $42.50 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Gasoline futures also rallied.

Oil was rising on growth in gasoline demand, though the weak home-sales data are "weighing on the psyche of oil traders," said Phil Flynn, vice president at Alaron Trading. Oil prices were trading lower earlier after data showed sales of pre-owned U.S. homes dropped to the lowest level in 12 years.

U.S. gasoline consumption during the past four weeks rose 1.7% from a year ago, the Energy Information Administration reported. Gasoline inventories fell by 3.4 million barrels, more than analysts surveyed by Platts had expected.

The EIA also said in the report U.S. refineries operated at 81.4% of their operable capacity last week, down slightly from the previous week. Meanwhile, inventories at Cushing, Okla., the delivery point for Nymex oil futures, fell for a second week to 34.5 million barrels.

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