Coronavirus pandemic zaps oil demand

Crude stockpiles rose by 13.83 million barrels last week, three times what analysts expected

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U.S. oil inventories ballooned last week as the COVID-19 pandemic crushed demand.

Crude stockpiles rose by 13.83 million barrels in the week ended March 27, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said Wednesday. Economists surveyed by Refinitiv were expecting a build of 4 million barrels.

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"At 469.2 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are near the five-year average for this time of year," the weekly report said.

West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures for May delivery touched a session low of $19.90 a barrel, down 2.8 percent, in the moments after the new data was disclosed, though they pared some of the losses later.

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Demand for products made from crude oil, such as gasoline and jet fuel, has plummeted as COVID-19 forced states across the country to issue “stay-at-home” orders.

WTI crude has tumbled 67 percent from its Jan. 6 peak through Tuesday. The energy component recently fell below $20 a barrel for the first time in 18 years.