U.S. crude oil inventories declined in the past week slightly more than predicted by analysts but the data was only enough to boost oil prices briefly. Commercial inventories declined by 1.8 million barrels to 385.5 million barrels in the week ended Dec. 26, according to the Energy Information Administration. Analysts polled by Platts expected a decline of 1.25 million barrels for the week. Following the data, crude oil for February delivery briefly spiked to about $53.50 a barrel but then declined. At last check, the contract was down $1.18, or 2.2%, to $52.94 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Tuesday, the American Petroleum Institute said U.S. crude-oil inventories rose by about 800,000 barrels to 387.3 million barrels.
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