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Falling Gasoline Supplies Push Crude Oil Futures Higher

Crude oil futures were up on Wednesday, trading close to a two-week high after industry data showed that U.S. gasoline supplies fell to the lowest level since June 2009 last week, easing concerns over a slowdown in U.S. demand.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, light, sweet crude futures for delivery in October traded at USD87.89 a barrel during European morning trade, climbing 0.85%. 

It earlier rose as much as 0.96% to trade at a daily high of USD87.99 a barrel, just below Monday’s two-week high of USD88.03.

The American Petroleum Institute, an industry group, said on Tuesday that U.S. gasoline supplies dropped 5.4 million barrels last week, the largest decline since the week ended March 18.

Total U.S. gasoline stockpiles stood at 205.8 million barrels, the lowest since June 2009.

Energy traders have been closely eyeing gasoline stockpiles in recent weeks to gauge the strength of U.S. demand, as the U.S. driving season is currently in peak gasoline demand period.

The data also showed that crude inventories rose 1.7 million barrels, confounding expectations for a 0.5 million barrel decline.

Later in the day, the U.S. Energy Department was to release its closely-watched crude oil inventories report for the week ended August 12.

The data was expected to show that U.S. crude oil stockpiles fell by 0.5 million barrels, while gasoline supplies were forecast to drop by 2.0 million barrels. 

But gains were limited as the previous day’s meeting between French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel failed to produce a resolution to the region’s ongoing debt crisis. 

Elsewhere, on the ICE Futures Exchange, Brent oil futures for October delivery rose 0.88% to trade at USD110.33 a barrel, up USD22.44 on its U.S. counterpart.

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