NEW YORK — Oil prices fell yesterday after the government reported supplies of crude rose last week and new data showed OPEC production was the highest in more than two years.
Supplies of oil and gasoline in the United States are rising, while demand for energy products remains weak. The economy is getting stronger, but businesses have been slow to increase hiring. The employment rate remains high, which means fewer commuters are on the road buying gasoline.
The price of oil has also been affected by signs Saudi Arabia and other OPEC nations are raising production to keep the price from going too high, which would slow the global economic recovery.
According to a report from Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Co., OPEC crude oil production last month averaged 29.57 million barrels per day. That was the highest level in two years.
The Energy Department said yesterday that US crude oil supplies increased last week by 1.9 million barrels to 345.1 million barrels. That was below the 2.4 million barrel rise analysts expected, according to Platts.
One of the biggest increases in crude came on the West Coast. Oil shipments from the trans-Alaska pipeline picked up after it closed temporarily last month because of a leak. That was offset by an unexpected drop in supplies at Cushing, Okla., according to the government report. Cushing is the delivery point for benchmark West Texas Intermediate traded on the Nymex.
Gasoline supplies increased 4.7 million barrels to 240.9 million barrels, the highest level since March 1990. Pump prices have remained high, above $3 a gallon in many parts of the country. The average price for a gallon of regular gasoline was $3.115 yesterday, according to AAA and others. That was 2.7 cents more than a month ago and 47.1 cents more than a year ago.