Crude oil futures settled lower Wednesday after U.S. inventories showed an unexpected increase on the week. Crude oil for February delivery declined $1.28, or 2.2%, to $55.84 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Earlier in the day, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said commercial crude inventories rose 7.3 million barrels on the week, while analysts were looking for a decrease of 1.8 million barrels. Gasoline for January delivery fell nearly 6 cents, or 3.7%, to settle at just over $1.51 a gallon.
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