We received our crude inventory updates a day late thanks to the Labor Day holiday, so let's take a look at the results. According to the Energy Department, crude supplies slipped by 3.9 million barrels to 329.7 million last week (the drop is larger than was expected). The American Petroleum Institute (API) reported a drop of 4.8 million barrels to 326.7 million. During the past week, the Energy Department saw motor gasoline supplies drop by 1.5 million barrels to 191.1 million, putting inventories 8.8% below the year-ago level. However, the API reported a 1.6 million-barrel jump in gas supplies. Finally, distillates were up more than the market expected, with the Energy Department reporting an increase of 2.3 million barrels and the API seeing inventories increase by 3.3 million. During the past week, refinery utilization increased to 92.1% of capacity, compared to 90.3% a year earlier.

During the past 3 sessions, crude has added 3.2% thanks to concerns over this data and renewed violence in the Middle East. One analyst did note that the higher oil prices go, the more likely it will be that OPEC will feel under increasing pressure to moderate its rather inflexible stance on quotas at its official meeting that kicks off on Tuesday in Vienna. At last check, crude cost $76.34 per barrel, which is 61 cents higher on the day.