By Nicole Friedman

Oil prices advanced Wednesday as U.S. government storage data showed that crude-oil supplies fell for a sixth straight week last week, as traders had expected.

Light, sweet crude for September delivery recently rose 60 cents, or 0.6%, to $97.98 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent on ICE Futures Europe traded up 72 cents, or 0.7%, at $105.33 a barrel.

Crude-oil stockpiles fell by 1.8 million barrels to 365.6 million barrels in the week ended Aug. 1, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said Wednesday. It was the sixth weekly decline in a row, putting stockpiles at their lowest since Feb. 28.

Analysts had expected a draw of 1.7 million barrels, according to a Wall Street Journal survey.

Gasoline stockpiles unexpectedly fell by 4.4 million barrels. Analysts had predicted a 100,000-barrel gain.

Front-month September reformulated gasoline blendstock, or RBOB, recently climbed 5.45 cents, or 2%, to $2.7700 a gallon.

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Though gasoline supplies typically fall in the summer as travelers hit the road to take vacations, "the magnitude of the drop was certainly more than the market was anticipating," said Tim Evans, analyst at Citi Futures Perspective. "It does certainly look like demand has picked up."

Distillate stocks, which include heating oil and diesel fuel, fell by 1.8 million barrels, compared with analysts' forecast of an increase of 600,000 barrels. The drawdown in distillates was a surprise because distillate supplies usually build in the summer and fall to prepare for winter, when heating-oil demand increases, Mr. Evans said.

September diesel recently rose 3.38 cents, or 1.2%, to $2.8807 a gallon.

Refining capacity utilization fell 1.1 percentage points to 92.4% of capacity. Analysts had expected the operating rate to fall by 0.5 percentage point in the week.

"Crude runs are still pretty decent," said Kyle Cooper, analyst at IAF Advisors in Houston. "They'll start to tail off here in the next few weeks" as refineries enter seasonal maintenance, he said.

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(END) Dow Jones Newswires

August 06, 2014 11:39 ET (15:39 GMT)

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