NEW YORK, Mar. 24 -- U.S. crude oil price on Wednesday hit its highest level since September 26, 2008, as U.S. gasoline inventories dropped sharply last week and unrest in the Middle East kept weighting in the markets.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Wednesday, the gasoline stocks declined 5.32 million barrels in the week ended March 18, surpassing an analyst forecast of a 1.8 million barrel drop.
The gasoline stocks decline in the first three weeks in March was the biggest for the period since EIA started gathering weekly information in 1990. Gasoline demand over the past four weeks was 1.2 percent higher than a year earlier, the EIA said. And U.S. is entering the prime driving season, gasoline demand would increase in the next 90 days.
Meanwhile, the continuing unrest in the Middle East was still weighing the nervous investors. In the OPEC state Libya, western countries have started another round of strike. In Yemen, the tension between the government and protesters got intensified. In Syria, violent protests spread to the southern areas.
Light, sweet crude for May delivery gained 78 cents to settle at 105.75 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. In London, Brent crude for May delivery last traded flat above 115 dollars a barrel.