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Crude Oil Futures Climb

Gasoline loses 1 cent to $2.03 a gallon.

Oil futures slid early Wednesday after the government released inventory figures that were deemed bearish by energy traders, but by the end of the session the losses had been erased.

November light sweet crude closed up 77 cents to $80.30 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Reformulated gasoline lost 1 cent to $2.03 a gallon, and heating oil was fractionally better at $2.18 a gallon.

Near-term natural gas moved 6 cents higher to $6.42 per million British thermal units. The October contract traded as the front month for the last time.

The Energy Information Administration's inventory report for the week ended Sept. 21 was more bearish than had been expected. Crude stores grew by 1.8 million barrels, whereas analysts were looking for a 2.1 million-barrel draw.

Gasoline inventories rose by 532,000 barrels as opposed to the 325,000-barrel loss anticipated by analysts. Distillates increased by about 400,000 more barrels than had been forecast.

Refinery utilization rates fell 2.7 percentage points during the week, from 89.6% to 86.9%. This is normal for this time of year, because refineries tend to go off-line for maintenance during the fall and spring shoulder seasons.

Among energy stocks,



was little changed at $87.30.



dropped 1.6% to $103.

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