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U.S. oil stockpiles drop
Inventories fall by 1.3 million barrels, or 0.4%, to 293 million, sending crude to record.
August 18, 2004: 11:07 AM EDT

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - U.S. stockpiles of crude oil fell by 1.3 million barrels last week, the government reported Wednesday, sending prices to another record high.

Crude inventories, excluding the Strategic Petroleum Preserve, fell by 0.4 percent to 293 million barrels, the Energy Information Administration reported. However, that level is up 3.6 percent from a year earlier.

Following the report, U.S. light crude for September delivery reached a record intraday high $47.35 a barrel before easing to $47.25, up 50 cents from Tuesday's settlement.

Oil prices have soared to record levels this week as continuing concerns about exports from Russia's Yukos, sabotage attacks in Iraq and instability in Venezuela have lifted prices past $47 a barrel.

A reported settlement to end the fighting in the Iraqi city of Najaf added to the volatility of the price movement Wednesday.

Gasoline stockpiles also fell last week, posting a drop of 2.6 million barrels to 205.7 million. During the recent runup in crude prices, prices at the pump have eased, but some experts warn that gas prices will eventually follow crude's trend.

Despite the drop in crude and gasoline inventories, the amount of oil coming into the U.S. averaged 10.4 million barrels per day, up 883,000 from the previous week. The EIA said the increase was likely from increased shipments from Saudi Arabia and the beginning of shipments from Libya.  Top of page




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