U.S. crude-oil inventories are expected to show a decline for the first time in seven weeks, according to a survey conducted by The Wall Street Journal. Analysts and traders predict a 1 million barrel decrease, bringing the total stockpiles to 448.7 million barrels at the end of the week on December 1st. This would represent an 8.4% increase compared to the previous year.

Estimates range from a draw of 3 million barrels to a build of 2 million barrels, with a majority of respondents expecting a reduction in inventories. The U.S. Energy Information Administration is set to release the official inventory data on Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. EST.

Gasoline inventories are projected to increase by 700,000 barrels, reaching a total of 218.9 million barrels. However, estimates suggest a wide range of outcomes, from an increase of 4.5 million barrels to a decrease of 3 million barrels.

In regards to stocks of distillates, mainly diesel fuel, analysts expect an additional 1 million barrel increase. This follows the significant 5.2 million-barrel inventory build observed in the previous week. Forecasts for distillates vary from an increase of 3.5 million to a decrease of 3 million barrels.

Refinery capacity utilization is anticipated to rise by 0.8 percentage points to 90.6%, marking the fourth consecutive weekly increase. Experts predict a range of outcomes, from a half percentage-point increase to one of 1.5 percentage points, with two analysts refraining from making a forecast.

Summary of Analyst Forecasts

| Analyst | Crude | Gasoline | Distillates | Refinery Use | |---------------------------|-------|----------|-------------|--------------| | Again Capital | -1.6 | 1.9 | 1.1 | 0.6 | | Commodity Research Group | -3.0 | 1.8 | 0.3 | 0.7 | | Confluence Investment Mgmt| 2.0 | 4.5 | 3.5 | 1.5 | | DTN | -1.2 | 1.5 | -0.5 | 0.7 | | Excel Futures | 1.7 | 1.3 | 3.5 | 0.6 | | Spartan Capital Securities| -1.6 | -2.2 | 1.2 | n/f | | Mizuho | -0.5 | 1.0 | 2.0 | 0.5 | | Price Futures Group | -3.0 | -3.0 | -3.0 | 1.0 | | Ritterbusch and Associates| -2.6 | 1.8 | 2.3 | 0.6 | | Tradition Energy | -0.7 | -2.1 | -0.5 | n/f | | AVERAGE | -1.0 | 0.7 | 1.0 | 0.8 |

(Note: Numbers in millions of barrels, except refinery use, which is in percentage points.)

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