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Oil Ticks Lower on Inventory Data

Domestic crude stores grew by 5.65 million barrels during the week ended May 2, whereas analysts had forecast only a 1.63 million-barrel increase.

Crude oil futures moved slightly lower in early Wednesday trading after the Energy Information Administration released new inventory figures that showed a larger-than-expected build in crude oil stores.

West Texas crude for June delivery was down 21 cents at $121.63 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude was off 13 cents at $120.18. Reformulated gasoline was fractionally lower at $3.10 a gallon, and heating oil was down a bit at $3.35 a gallon.

Near-term natural gas slid 5 cents to $11.11 per million British thermal units.

Cramer: Disregard Oil Inventory

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Energy stocks were mostly in retreat.


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was down 1.1% at $95.78, and

Exxon Mobil

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was 0.6% lower at $89.60.

Shares of


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were 1% weaker at $46.27, and

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Nabors Industries

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fell 1.2% to $38.69.

Anadarko Petroleum

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was 2.3% higher at $76.18, and


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was down 0.5% to $56.68.

The downturn in energy futures came after a report that domestic crude oil stores grew by 5.65 million barrels during the week ended May 2, whereas analysts had forecast a 1.63 million-barrel increase, according to a survey conducted by


. At a total of 325.6 million barrels, U.S. crude stores now rest in the middle of their average range.

Motor gasoline stores rose by 794,000 barrels, compared with the 100,000-barrel increase that analysts predicted. Distillate inventories declined 107,000 barrels. Analysts were expecting a 1.1 million-barrel build.

Increased crude imports into the U.S., which averaged 10.6 million barrels a day and were 413,000 barrels a day higher than the previous week, were partly responsible for the increase in total crude stores.

Also a factor was sluggish U.S. refinery throughput, which declined by 99,000 barrels a day from the previous week to an average of 14.7 million barrels a day. When refineries do not process the additional oil that is imported into the U.S., domestic crude inventories will frequently show a gain.