Oil Ends Down for 4th Day, Hit by Big U.S. Crude Build

Oil prices fell on Thursday after the U.S. government reported a larger-than-expected crude stockpile build, leaving prices lower for a fourth straight day.

Crude futures settled off the day's lows after tracking a rally in share prices on Wall Street. Some analysts said a bigger-than-expected drawdown in gasoline supplies also limited the downside for crude.

"We were trading according to supply-demand fundamentals earlier in the day. But toward the close, it was the risk-on, macro trade, with money flowing into riskier assets such as stocks and commodities," said Chris Jarvis, analyst at Caprock Risk Management in Frederick, Maryland.

U.S. crude's front-month contract, November, settled down 26 cents, or 0.6 percent, at $46.38 a barrel. At the session low it was down $1.41, or 2 percent.

Brent's front-month, November, finished down 44 cents at $48.71 before expiring and going off the board. December Brent, which will be the spot contract from Friday, was more actively traded than November, settling up 4 cents at $49.73.

So far this week, prices of U.S. crude and global oil benchmark Brent are down about 7 percent. The slide began Monday on worries about record OPEC production.

Oil prices hit the day's lows after the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said U.S. crude inventories rose by 7.6 million barrels for the week ended Oct 9.

The build was more than double the build of 2.9 million barrels expected by analysts in a Reuters poll, although lower than the 9.3 million barrels indicated by industry group American Petroleum Institute (API) in a report on Wednesday.

The crude build comes amid lower processing of oil in the United States as refiners shut for maintenance after the peak summer driving season.

Relentless OPEC supply and worries about creeping U.S. stockpiles have weighed on crude prices again this week, after a sharp market rebound in the first week of October.

Despite the renewed bearish sentiment, some analysts think prices may still rise in the near-to-medium term due to lagging U.S. shale crude output.

"There are increasing signs that non-OPEC supply is already decreasing noticeably as a consequence of the low prices," said Carsten Fritsch at Commerzbank.

Some traders disagree.

"The low refinery runs will continue to allow crude oil inventories to rise significantly over the next several weeks, resulting in further downward price pressure," said John Kilduff, partner at energy hedge fund Again Capital.

(By Barani Krishnan; Additional reporting by Simon Falush in London and Meeyoung Cho in Seoul and Henning Gloystein in Singapore; Editing by David Gregorio)