The nation’s crude oil glut continues to shrink

The nation’s supply of commercial crude took a big dip of 4.4 million barrels last week, continuing to slowly shrink North America’s glut of oil.

The move continues the trend in recent weeks of slowly decreasing inventory levels, helping to allay fears of rising U.S. oil production coming too quickly and leading to another global oversupply. After struggling in recent weeks, U.S. oil prices have recovered of late and are now back above $51 a barrel.

While oil inventories took the biggest dip, refined petroleum product stockpiles also fell a little. Gasoline stocks declined by 800,000, while distillate fuel oil, which is used to make diesel and heating oils, dropped by 500,000 barrels, according to weekly Energy Department data.

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Crude stockpiles have fallen a bit from record highs this spring, but the inventory levels are still well above average. Overall gasoline and distillate stocks also remain high compared to historical averages.