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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.
"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.
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.