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Oil prices on the rise

Associated Press

NEW YORK — Energy futures rose Wednesday after the government said supplies of crude and heating oil fell sharply last week while gasoline inventories jumped.

The Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration said crude supplies dropped by 7.6 million barrels last week, much more than the 1.5 million barrel decline analysts surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires, on average, had expected.

But much of that decline was due to a sharp drop in imports of almost a million barrels a day because fog closed the Houston Ship Channel last week, said Jim Ritterbusch, president of Ritterbusch and Associates in Galena, Ill.

"That’s basically what drew crude supplies lower," Ritterbusch said.

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Traders expect crude supplies will rebound in next week’s report, which will reflect deliveries that were delayed by the fog, Ritterbusch said.

Meanwhile, investors were focusing on other aspects of the report, which were mixed. For instance, heating oil supplies dropped by 2.1 million barrels last week, much more than the expected 500,000 barrel decline. But gasoline inventories jumped by 3 million barrels, more than the 700,000-barrel increase analysts had expected.

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