Oil prices fell Wednesday after a mixed US petroleum report that showed an encouraging drop in crude supplies but increases in gasoline and distillate stocks.
New York’s main futures contract, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for delivery in January, slid $1.07, closing at $97.44 a barrel.
Brent North Sea crude for January, the European benchmark, rose 32 cents to settle at $109.70 a barrel in London trade.
The Department of Energy reported that US crude-oil inventories fell by 10.6 million barrels in the week ending December 6, almost five times the 2.5 million barrel decline estimated on average of analysts polled by Dow Jones Newswires.
It was the second consecutive week of a drawdown in US supplies following a 10-week run of rises that had added more than 35 million barrels to inventories.
But the bullish drop in crude stocks was offset by bigger-than-expected increases in gasoline and distillates, weighing on the WTI contract, said Tim Evans of Citi Futures.
Gasoline supplies rose by 6.7 million barrels and distillates, which include diesel and heating fuel, gained 4.5 million barrels.
“It is a sign of lackluster demand in the US,” said Matt Smith of Schneider Electric.
Smith noted that heating oil, mainly used in the Northeast, is less and less used and being replaced by natural gas, with new construction buildings equipped with natural gas.
Earlier in the day, the International Energy Agency issued an upbeat outlook for the United States and Europe, saying economic recovery in the advanced economies is expected to lift global oil demand.