U.S. crude oil prices surged to $38 per barrel Wednesday after another drop in already-low gasoline supplies.
Prices jumped after the Energy Information Administration announced a further 800,000-barrel decline in gasoline stocks to 119.6 million barrels. U.S. gasoline supplies are running 5 percent below the five-year average.
U.S. light-crude prices have averaged almost $35 per barrel so far in 2004, well above 2003's average of $31. Plans by OPEC to cut production quotas by 4 percent in April and increased Chinese demand have pushed prices to levels that consuming countries such as the United States, fear could hurt economic growth.