Oil Ends Sharply Lower As Report Shows U.S. Inventory Build

By Mark DeCambre Markets MarketWatch Pulse

Oil prices finished lower Wednesday, halting three straight sessions of gains, after the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported a larger-than-expected climb in crude stockpiles. West Texas Intermediate crude oil for February delivery settled down 81 cents, or 1.5%, at $52.49 a barrel. The U.S. Energy Information Administration early Wednesday indicated that domestic crude supplies grew by 2.26 million barrels in the week ended Dec. 16. Stockpiles had been expected to fall by 2.3 million barrels, according to a survey of 13 analysts and traders by The Wall Street Journal. The loss ends three straight sessions of advances for WTI oil in the wake of an agreement by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other non-OPEC producers to curb output.

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