Crude oil prices again hit record highs Wednesday, surging to more than $112 a barrel during intraday trading after a government report showed an unexpected decline in crude supplies.
U.S. crude for May delivery climbed $2.37 to settle at $110.87 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, a new closing record. Oil also set a new intraday high of $112.21 earlier in the day.
The Energy Information Administration's figures for the week ending April 4 found that U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the
Strategic Petroleum Reserve) decreased by 3.2 million barrels from the previous week. At 316 million barrels, the EIA report noted, U.S. crude oil inventories are in the middle of the average range for this time of year.
The problem is, analysts had only expected a drop of 2.3 million barrels.
The EIA report also said that U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged 14.3 million barrels per day during the week ending April 4, up 142,000 barrels per day from the previous week's average. Refineries operated at 83 percent of their operable capacity last week.
That 83-percent figure is troublesome, say some analysts, saying refineries should be at higher capacity as they prepare for the summer driving season.