U.S. crude inventories fall 5.9-million barrels

EIA on Wednesday said U.S. commerical inventories of crude oil dropped by 5.9-million barrels during the week ended Dec. 18. Crude oil prices rallied on the news, with the February contract up $1.47 as of this writing to $37.61 (WTI). Brent rose $1.10 to $37.21.1

U.S. imports of crude oil also fell during the week, dropping to about 7.3 MMb/d, nearly 1-MMb/d lower than the prior week. Refinery inputs averaged about 16.5 MMb/d, off 143 Mb/d from the previous week. U.S. refineries operated at 91.3% of their available capacity.