Oil prices tank as US crude and fuel stockpiles jump


Oil prices gave up the morning’s gains on Wednesday, as official government figures showed U.S. crude stockpiles rose last week, contradicting an earlier industry report that suggested inventories had dropped.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures fell $1.41, or 2.2 percent, to $61.98 a barrel by 11:58 a.m. ET (1658 GMT). The contract hit a nearly one-month low and was trading down 5.3 percent this week, on pace for its worst weekly performance since May 2017.

Brent crude futures were down $1.05, or 1.6 percent, to $65.81 a barrel. The contract is 4 percent for the week.

Crude futures were caught up in a broad market sell-off earlier in the week. But while U.S. share prices continued to rally after a late afternoon rebound on Tuesday, oil prices extended losses after the U.S. government’s weekly inventory report.

U.S. commercial crude inventories rose by 1.9 million barrels to 420.3 million in the week through Feb. 2, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported.

That was lower than the roughly 3-million-barrel increase analysts anticipated in a pair of surveys. But data on Tuesday from the American Petroleum Institute had shown a decline of 1.1 million barrels, setting market expectations for a drop after the previous week’s big rise.

Stockpiles of gasoline and distillate fuels like diesel also rose by 3.4 million barrels and 3.9 million barrels respectively, the EIA reported, surpassing expectations by a wide margin.

The EIA’s preliminary figures on Wednesday also showed weekly U.S. production hit 10.25 million barrels a day. The rise above the 10-million-barrel mark was telegraphed by last week’s report that November output rose above that level for the first time since 1970.

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