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Crude and products futures rise; crude stocks reach 25-year lows

NEW YORK (Dow Jones News) -- Crude and products futures jumped at the New York Mercantile Exchange Wednesday on inventory data which showed surprise declines in U.S. petroleum supplies, bringing crude stocks to 25-year lows.

April crude futures rose 68 cents to $29 a barrel, April heating oil gained 1.08 cent to 74.14 cents a gallon and unleaded gasoline for April delivery was up 2.44 cents to 91.64 cents a gallon.

Data released by the Department of Energy early Wednesday showed that crude inventories fell by an unexpected 2.7 million barrels to 277.3 million barrels in the week ended March 2. The data largely confirmed Tuesday's inventory report by the American Petroleum Institute showing crude stocks had dropped 3.891 million barrels to 275.799 million barrels in the past week, the lowest since 1976.

"Crude inventory is down to operating minimum," said Ed Silliere, vice president of risk management at Energy Merchant. "Any disruption in supply now can cause problems."

The latest inventory data was also bullish for products. Gasoline stocks showed an unexpected decline of 1.054 million barrels to 203.095 million barrels as production fell slightly and demand remained above-average, according to the API data.

Distillate stocks, which include heating oil and diesel fuel, fell 781,000 barrels to 114.459 million barrels, API data showed.

-- Carl Jenkins (, March 24, 2001

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