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Oil rises to near $71 on gasoline drop, stocks

Oil prices surged to $71 a barrel Wednesday as U.S. gasoline stocks fell more than expected and rebounding shares boosted confidence in a stronger fuel demand down the road.  Benchmark crude for July delivery was up $1.89 to $70.64 a barrel at midday London time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Tuesday the contract dropped $1.46 to settle at $68.75.  Oil prices had dropped 22 percent in the past three weeks.

Gasoline supplies unexpectedly fell last week, dropping by 3.2 million barrels, the American Petroleum Institute said late Tuesday. Analysts had expected an increase of 150,000 barrels, according to a survey by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos.
 
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