Oil futures extended strong gains Wednesday after the U.S. Energy Department said crude inventories fell last week. February West Texas Intermediate oil futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange were up $1.51, or 4.2%, at $37.66 a barrel. The Energy Department's Energy Information Administration said crude inventories fell 5.9 million barrels in the week ended Dec. 18. The American Petroleum Institute, an industry group, late Tuesday said inventories had dropped 3.6 million barrels, while analysts surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had forecast a rise of 600,000 barrels.
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