Crude oil futures were down on Wednesday, briefly adding to losses after a government report showed that U.S. crude oil inventories rose unexpectedly last week.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, light sweet crude futures for delivery in June traded at USD99.12 a barrel during U.S. morning trade, slumping 0.43%.
It earlier fell as much as 1.3%% to a daily low of USD98.22 a barrel.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration said in its weekly report that U.S. crude oil inventories rose unexpectedly in the week ended May 20, climbing by 0.6 million barrels.
Analysts had expected U.S. crude oil inventories to decline by 1.6 million barrels.
Total U.S. crude oil inventories for the week ended May 20 stood at 370.9 million barrels, remaining above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year.
Total motor gasoline inventories increased by 3.8 million barrels, significantly higher than the expected 0.4 million barrel increase. Stocks of distillate fuels including heating oil and diesel decreased 2.0 million barrels.
U.S. crude oil imports averaged 9.2 million barrels per day last week, up by 662,000 barrels per day from the previous week. Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports have averaged nearly 8.9 million barrels per day, 938,000 barrels per day below the same four-week period last year.
U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged 14.8 million barrels per day, 494,000 barrels per day above the previous week’s average. Refineries operated at 86.3% of their operable capacity last week.
Gasoline production increased last week, averaging about 9.3 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production increased last week, averaging about 4.3 million barrels per day.
Despite the recent volatility in oil prices, global financial service provider Barclays said that the balance of risk for crude remains “heavily biased to the upside.”
“We see current prices as a solid floor, and while short-term downside risk emanating from external events like sovereign-debt crises cannot be ruled out, the highs for the year are not in yet,” the bank said in a report published earlier in the day.
Elsewhere, on the ICE Futures Exchange, Brent oil futures for July delivery climbed 0.9% to trade at USD113.33 a barrel, up USD14.21 on its U.S. counterpart.
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